Analyze and Assess: How I Deal With Disability Harassment
I could tell you many stories of how I’ve been mistreated due to having a different way of functioning, processing information, and socializing. Sigh.
A few rhetorical questions I need to ask myself: Why on earth was I surprised when I first experienced prejudice regarding my physical condition? (Insert rolling eyes emoji here.) And why is it so difficult for people to mind their own business? “Honestly …” (Spoken in my best Austin Powers voice.)
A mockingbird at a local restaurant
I’ve been laughed at and given dirty looks for wearing my Raynaud’s gloves. It’s strange how people have such an attitude about it. I deal with other rude things, too, including almost getting knocked over at the store while moving at the pace of a three-toed sloth. But I’d like to share my most memorable experience with disability harassment, which is on a different level.
Here’s the story. It’s recent, so it’s fresh. For my husband Joe’s birthday this year, we went out to eat at one of our favorite local restaurants. We felt good all dolled up. We enjoyed a delicious meal and had a fun time celebrating. Upon leaving, I was faced with the challenge of getting down the stairs, since there was no ramp. It’s a good thing I didn’t need my nifty walker that day.
(I’ll let you in on a little secret, sometimes I fantasize about decking out my mobility devices. Is there a show that exists called “Pimp My Walker”? )
Back to it. Getting down the steps wouldn’t be an impossible feat, but it would still be a challenge. I needed to take my time and lean my weight on my husband as he held my hand and guided me, while my other hand held on to the railing.
As I was trying to concentrate so I didn’t end up falling and landing on my face, I heard a high-pitched, condescending voice out of nowhere say, “You can do it. Come on, one step at a time.”
I looked up and saw an audience of two. One of them was mimicking the way I was stepping. I wondered if she thought I was drunk, or maybe she just didn’t like the look on my face. Just so you know, I often have random, unique, mismatching facial expressions, one of the perks of being an “Aspie.” (Insert dancer emoji here.)
I must get this tale out before I get … twitchy.
Maybe she was drunk? Who knows, but this mockingbird “admirer” cheered me on the entire time it took me to get to the bottom of the steps. I even got an applause at the end! I considered taking a bow. Maybe I would have had I consumed an alcoholic beverage during dinner. But honestly, I was too weak and tired to play.
Wrapping it up
So, how did this “Sjögie” respond to this disability-related harassment? Well, I ignored it. Later, I cried, and then I laughed. I concluded it wasn’t worth addressing, based on my process of assessing things, which involves asking myself the following questions: Am I in danger in any way? How important is this? How much of my energy and effort will be used? Is it worth it?
Here’s a good saying to remember: Don’t personalize. Assess, then decide.
Till next time. Remember to stay strong, laugh, yell, or cry if you need to, and don’t ever lose hope.
This week’s shoutout goes to Bev! Thank you for your comment. I’m touched that you look forward to Mondays now. Be well.
Note: Sjögren’s Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sjögren’s Syndrome News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Sjögren’s syndrome.