The greatest insistence that I can somehow power through my disability comes from the people that claim that my brain would simply work if capitalism was eradicated.
CW/TW: Ableist language, eugenics
I don’t know who decided that “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” was an accurate or effective description of what ADHD does to a person, but I think they should be stripped of all medical credentials, even if it’s posthumously. It is a woefully insufficient title, incapable of fully describing the laundry list of physical, emotional, and mental symptoms that come with some quirk of brain chemistry. Issues with attention span and regulation of one’s limbs are certainly on that list, but there’s so much more. Poor emotional regulation, little to no impulse control, complete internalisation of rejection, chronic insomnia or delayed sleep phase syndrome, lack of executive function skills, choice paralysis, dyslexia, dyscalculia, obsessive compulsive skin picking and/or hair pulling, time blindness…
All hallmarks of a disability frequently written off as over-exaggeration or attention-seeking. A disability that is rarely considered “real” enough to warrant qualification for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) despite the common occurrence of chronic unemployment, or lack of disability accommodations in most institutions. And some will argue with me on that last point, citing some institutional policy or another that guarantees allowances for all disabilities, but lacking any real experience with requesting and getting those “federally-protected” adaptations.
Some 20 years post-diagnosis, simply hearing the words “attention deficit” is enough to set my eye to twitching as I’m forcefully reminded of every snide, disdainful comment or dismissal of the developmental disability that has robbed of the most basic human functions.
“What, like you can’t sit still?”
“So you daydream a lot, that’s not a disability!”
I really and truly wish it were that simple because the act of undoing decades of harmful, hurtful, propaganda that paints the afflicted as attention-seeking, lazy, unmotivated, and full of excuses is fucking exhausting. A soul-deep exhaustion, both mental and physical, sets in at the prospect of having to explain, once again, that every aspect of my life is affected by the chemistry of my brain. Yes, I do have access to a fun cocktail of Schedule 2 amphetamines that are supposed to kickstart the synapses in my brain responsible for getting me off of my ass and into a state of semi-manic productivity. But there’s no guarantee that either of the prescriptions I’m currently taking will actually do anything despite the absolutely astronomical price that I pay for them. And of course, that’s only if I’m not rationing my currently available supply because it takes 2 or more weeks to fill a prescription and I cannot request a refill before 30 days have passed since my last one. There is simply no escape from my disability or the ways that neoliberal capitalist policies constantly force me to look for new ways to adapt or face homelessness or death.
When I’m explaining this tedious minutiae to someone that has challenged me on the validity of my illness, my disability, I can usually feel them lose interest in the conversation. Sometimes their eyes will glaze over, sometimes they will change the subject, and sometimes they will start responding with stilted, one- or two-word answers such as “wow,” or “that’s crazy.” There’s a “fun” irony in that because I have to frequently remind myself to mimic traditional markers of undivided attention in conversations lest I be seen as uninterested in what others have to say. But there is no joy when the greatest pushback, the greatest insistence that I can somehow power through my disability, comes from the people that claim that my brain would simply work if capitalism was eradicated.
I’m sorry to be rude or flippant, but the next time someone tells me that my demonstrably different brain chemistry can be solved by a quick shift in socioeconomic policy, I’m going to unhinge my jaw like a fucking rancor and swallow them whole. Please forgive the emotional hyperbole (another hallmark of ADHD) but the repackaging of eugenic rhetoric as liberatory theory truly sets my teeth on edge. There is no utopian vision of a communist society where developmental and learning disabilities simply cease to exist. Any suggestion that a post-capitalist revolution will eradicate the otherness is bordering on genocidal fan fiction. The rhetoric is dangerous, violent, and ableist. It should be torn to shreds immediately and without hesitation.
While less visible and less defensible disabilities are simple enough to write off because they are less palatable or easier to ignore, they are no less real. The gatekeeping of disability and the ableism that we have allowed to slip through the cracks is not liberatory nor is it enlightened. Eugenics is not a galaxy brain meme. There is no hierarchy of disability that is not white supremacist, capitalist violence leveraged against the easiest to discard. It is killing people. There is no liberation in the refusal to acknowledge the existence and validity of development and learning disabilities, only more of the same violence that keeps us all subjugated.
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