Struggling more with disability in times of political emergency

Everything gets harder under extreme stress. The situation of constant political crisis we’re living through is extremely stressful situation, and a lot of people are struggling.

This is not a normal situation. Donald Trump has been doing horrific things since the moment he assumed office, some of which we saw coming, and some of which have been awful surprises. Both the work that has to be done and the terror we’re facing on a day-to-day basis are draining. We have faced one crisis after another, and it has been completely exhausting.

The baseline level of stress and work we’re facing right now makes everything harder in and of itself — and new emergencies can intensify that. (And sometimes you might think that you’ve gotten used to it and then find that a particular crisis hits you particularly hard.)

If you have a disability, this may be affecting you differently than it’s affecting nondisabled people. Most people are having trouble right now; most disabled people are having additional disability-related trouble. That’s true in both the background sense and in the sense that the impact emergencies have on you may be different for disability-related reasons.

If you have a mobility disability, moving might be harder right now. If you have a speech disability, speaking might be harder or impossible right now. If you have sensory issues, some sensory input you are normally able to deal with might be intolerably painful at the moment. If you have an eating disorder, it might be harder to control it right now. If you have seizures or migraines or other neurological problems, your threshold might be lowered. If you have trauma-related triggers, they might be harder to tolerate, or you might be more hypervigilant than usual. If you are hard of hearing, it might be much harder to understand spoken conversations right now. And so on.
Things you’re used to being able to do might be harder or impossible right now. Coping mechanisms you’re used to relying on might not be working. This is true for everyone, disabled or not. But with disability, we’re also having functioning problems that most people around us aren’t having. That can in itself be difficult to cope with. 

For many of us, self acceptance as disabled people is a struggle. Under extreme stress, acceptance can be even harder. Acceptance is a skill just like everything else — and under extreme stress, many of us are dramatically more impaired. Acceptance gets harder, at the same time that there is suddenly more to accept. But you’re still worthy of acceptance. You’re not broken. It’s just hard.

Being disabled isn’t a failure. Being more impaired in a time of extreme stress isn’t a character flaw. You’re not alone in struggling. Nondisabled people are also more impaired right now; and they also can’t make it go away through sheer force of will. The particular things you can and can’t do may be different — because you have a disability, and disability matters.

Tl;dr The times we’re living in involve a lot of fear and extremely stressful political crises. This kind of stress makes everything harder. If you have a disability, some of your coping skills might not be working very well right now. Acceptance may also feel a lot harder. It’s worth remembering that it’s normal to struggle in situations like this — and it’s not your fault that disability matters now. Your body is not a character flaw.

 “struggling more with disability in times of political emergency” between line drawings of a wheelchair user and someone reading a book

“struggling more with disability in times of political emergency” between line drawings of a wheelchair user and someone reading a book