Drugs, crutches, and other tools

Psychiatric medication is highly stigmatized, and so is physical disability. One way that this comes out is that people say pejoratively, “medication is a crutch.”

Why is “crutch” an insult? What do people think is so terrible about using crutches?

I think that it’s a kind of ableism where people don’t understand that disability actually exists. They believe that anyone can do anything, if they put their mind to it and work hard. When people with disabilities can’t do something others can, they assume that we are just being lazy. They assume that about moving, they assume that about moving, and they assume that about thinking.

They believe that if they push us to try harder, then we will learn to stop being disabled. They think that if we stay disabled; it’s because someone’s giving us permission to be lazy. They’re constantly on guard against the possibility of a disabled person getting away with something.

They are aggressively hostile towards any visible adaptive strategy. When they see crutches or medications or whatever, they are terrified that we are getting permission to be lazy.

Sometimes, they think it’s ok for us to use these things, but only if we fall into a very narrow category of people think think have real disabilities. For instance, they might think wheelchairs are ok for paralyzed people, but have no respect for wheelchair users who can walk. Or they might think it’s ok to use medication if you’re trying to stop, but have contempt for people who need medication long-term and have no plans to stop taking it. Or whatever other combination of things. People have a lot of really weird ideas about disability, and just about any prejudice you can imagine exists.

Crutches are a tool. There are other mobility tools. Medications are several different tools. There are other mental health tools. They all have advantages and disadvantages, and everyone has to figure out what works best for them. Every strategy is stigmatized, because ableists expect us to think our way out of being disabled. But crutches aren’t actually bad things, whether they’re literal or figurative. We all find the ones we need.

tl;dr People with disabilities need adaptive strategies to work around disability-related limitations. Ableists think that we’re just being lazy when we use adaptations such as mobility aids or psychiatric medication. They often pejoratively say “you’re just using that as a crutch,” as though using adaptive equipment is the worst thing you could possibly do. But actually, there’s nothing wrong with crutches. We all find the ones we need, and that’s a good thing.

How To: Ask a Cripple if They Need Help




I sincerely wish we lived in a world where asking a cripple if they needed help wasn’t so confusing for people.

Rule number 1 of asking a cripple if they need help: DON’T DO IT.

It is generally a much safer route if you wait till they ask you to help them. Stop for a moment and consider how you would feel if you were, I don’t know, putting something in your backpack, totally chill and normal, and someone asked you if you needed help or, better yet, abruptly started doing it for you. How embarrassed would you feel? Annoyed?

There is a man in one of my classes who, every time I see him, asks if I am okay or if I need help. Now, he’s a really nice guy, and I know he means well, but know that it gets old really fast for us cripples when you constantly ask if we need help. It is also embarrassing.We are perfectly capable, and when you ask constantly if we need help, it implies that you think we are not capable.

Just some thoughts for the able-bodied folk out there who are unsure of whether or not they should ask a disabled person if they need help.

Agreed. Now, that doesn’t mean you should never ask if they need help. Just think about situations where you would ask an able-bodied person if they needed help. 

Here are some helpful examples:

  • Carrying a box or other large/awkward object
  • Obviously struggling 
  • If they’ve appeared to have been hurt (lying on the ground, falling, whatever)
  • If they’re very very obviously in need of help (that’s a very subjective one though, so use it sparingly)

Also an addition to the number one rule: DO NOT just go and help them without their permission. 

Examples include:

  • Going up behind someone and starting to push their wheelchair
  • Picking someone up and carrying them (yes, this happened to my mom because this guy thought that since she was blind, she couldn’t get up on the bus step)
  • Taking their belongings and carrying them

TL;DR: ASK first, HELP with PERMISSION, BACK OFF if the person says no.

Reblogging on this blog as well so it reaches more people. This is important!