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Unacceptably Disabled

A bit of a rant about a decade of pressure.

Thanks to Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash for getting my vibe.

Accepting the validity of own disability has become even harder than accepting the diagnosis.

I went to go find out if I could be classified as disabled in Japan. I’m not sure what I wanted out of it. Maybe reassurance that I could get support if I needed it, or just some extra help so I wouldn’t have to struggle so much.

My doctor told me what I had expected to hear. Because my eyes technically can be corrected with contacts or glasses, I probably wouldn’t qualify. He said he’d do the tests if I wanted, but it didn’t seem necessary.

Sure, I’m blind. I’m just not blind enough. That’s true no matter what country I’m in at the time. My eyes can both be corrected to 20/20 for distance. The catch there is they can’t do that at the same time. I have to choose which eye I see out of, and even then I have permanent double vision.

I choose to see out of my left, because that one can also read. My right eye is blind close up and I’ve been given conflicting reports on whether that sight can be recovered.

And it’s about right now in my story that I start to feel it. The guilt. People starting to tune out, because there are fully blind people out there — I can see something so I should shut up. For years now, part of me has understood. The words “it could be worse” ring in my ears.

But then I go outside when it’s sunny. My double vision takes over; my reduced peripheral vision puts me under constant bicycle attack. And again, I’m exhausted.

I’m constantly told I see too well. I read a sign and suddenly my low vision claims are questioned. I push myself to prove I’m competent by working myself into visionless stupors. All for what? So I can have more people take away my right to feel disabled?

Because that’s what it boils down to really. My disability is almost always evaluated by the casual observer. The pedestrian on the street who decides that my eyepatch is a fashion statement so they run into me on purpose. The woman who spits at me because I accidentally cut her off on the sidewalk. The supervisor who tells me to shake it off because she knew a blind lawyer once and he was fine.

The stronger I am; the more people want me to live up to the Disability Superhero persona that they are comfortable with — but that’s not me. Are you an Olympian because you can swim? No? Then don’t expect me to love it when you say I’m not doing enough to prove my disability doesn’t impact me.

Some disabled people are superheroes and I am in all honesty proud of them. It’s just not who I am or what I can do. It’s not that I even want to be treated differently at all. It’s just that I don’t want to be treated worse or like I need to excel beyond normal capabilities to make someone else comfortable. So often though, that’s the expectation.

I’m treated like a liar when I see something in the distance. I’m treated like a faker when I can walk down the stairs just fine one day and need help the next. I have a cane but don’t want to bring it out for fear of being publicly shamed for seeing too much. I’m treated like a whiney, attention seeking, problem because…just because.

No one else gets the frustration that comes with the kaleidoscope of double vision overlaid by green, purple, flashes of white, gas bubbles, debris, and light sensitivity that’s happening in my visual field all day every day. Often, that’s my own fault because I pretend it’s not there just to function. Or I tell people and then immediately play it off because that’s what I’ve been taught is best to do. It’s been about ten years since my diagnosis, so that’s long enough. It’s not fresh, so it’s not important.

I keep pretending because I don’t know what to do otherwise. I read bits of posts and comments from other people with disabilities that just aren’t severe enough for society to care. I wonder why I need to convince anyone. I’m not taking anything away from anyone by being disabled, why is it such an issue?

Still, here I am. The imposter.

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