Chloe smiling but looking down. She is wearing white t-shirt
Disability

Overcoming my disability is something I’ve never done

“Disabled people can overcome their disability if they try hard enough”. I hear this type of phrase all too often. It also comes with a few variations: overcoming disability, defying disability and disability did not stop them from achieving. Just to name a few.

However, I have never overcome my disability and I don’t intend to do so.

Overcome:

verb (used with object),  o·ver·came, o·ver·come, o·ver·com·ing.

  1. to get the better of in a struggle or conflict; conquer; defeat: to overcome the enemy.
  2. to prevail over (opposition, a debility, temptations, etc.); surmount: to overcome one’s weaknesses.

What does this mean to me?

Just take a moment to think about it. I found myself really examining how this statement is used, what it implies, and if it’s even accurate.

Overcoming my disability leads me to believe I have beaten it in some way. As a result, I have now accomplished a goal that I previously was unable to achieve. Yet my disability doesn’t magically disappear with my willingness to overcome it. I am disabled, both with or without a certain achievement.

Having a disability is an integral part of who I am. To overcome such a deep-rooted part of me is saying it shouldn’t be there in the first place. Not to mention the fact that certain achievements are just off limits when you have a disability, regardless of your actual ability.

“They achieved so and so despite their disability.”

I appreciate that sometimes things are harder for us. We may face more hurdles than non-disabled people, but that also devalues the things that everyone achieve. If you achieve something and have a disability that obviously means you have won against the odds or defied expectations. Don’t get me wrong, we’re a determined group of people and we probably do sometimes exceed more than medically expected. However, that is down to our abilities and hard work, rather than overcoming a part of ourselves.

What do I need to overcome?

When people use the word overcome in reference to disability, they are more accurately describing the barriers that society puts in our way.

I need to defy the notion that having a disability is bad thing.

I also need to overcome the mindset that trying harder to accomplish a goal will lead to always achieving on par with non-disabled people. It doesn’t matter how hard I try, I will not be able-boded and that’s okay. We live in a society that strives for perfection, with the idea that we just need to work that extra bit harder. Yes, working harder than most will enable me to achieve some things. Yet I will always have limitations. I could try my hardest to read a menu, no amount of squinting will make the words appear!

I regularly need to overcome social barriers and attitudes, but I know I’m not alone in this. The misconceptions can slowly grind you down with every (very often) innocent comment. I know people normally mean no harm, yet this is why it’s important to have these conversations. You’ve been sold the lie that disability is negative and that we need to get rid of it if possible. Surely we want future generations to not have these misconceptions?

My disability is here to stay

If I did choose to dismiss my disability in an attempt to overcome challenges, I’m not giving myself the best chance possible. Whether I like it or not, I am disabled — even if this means society sees me as less.

People might see the achievements as something amazing. Yet this might not show the full story. Today I walked two miles to raise money for CP Teens UK, the fact I completed it is a really good achievement for me. Yet what about the things that happen behind the scenes. The fact it was split into many sections so I could rest a lot, or the fact that pain levels now resemble running 17 marathons in one go! Not to mention the fact I did it with my brother because of my sight. I also know the physical impact of that walk will stick around for a while. Knowing my own limits, like having breaks and expecting the payback, is what allowed to complete the walk.

I don’t want to overcome my disability. To truly achieve I have to embrace and acknowledge any limitation and work around it. It also is knowing when you need support or understanding you can’t do something. Knowing my disability actually allows me to succeed. I do not need to change or overcome. I am not giving up if I say no.

Making the decision to not overcome my disability doesn’t make me less capable.

~ Chloe x

6 Comments

  • mark kent

    people never see the every day effects of any disability.there views/judgements are very Snotty Nosed .i take part in a lot lot research .have ..m.e . ibs.migraines the list goes on .have you had any bullying
    my blog.http;//mark-kent.webs.com
    twitter,supersnopper

    i am the co-Author of a book ,JUST Published

    mark

  • Alison Reid

    This article really reflects how I feel and the reality of being disabled. When I was growing up and even today well meaning family and friends would often tell me “inspirational “ stories of disabled people overcoming disability to achieve incredible feats. This always felt like people saying if you just try a bit harder you can do anything you want, which is not true. That is not to say I feel sorry for myself and I do consider myself successful and happy. I am just realistic and understand that the cost benefit analysis of some activities do not add up.

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