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  • Writer's pictureKyrby Brown

My Disability Is Not An Illness

You’ll have to forgive the religious connotations in this blog as I’m an Atheist with full respect for the beliefs of others, this is not a post about religion, this is a post about perception. 

Disclaimer: I am once again going to say that this blog is an expression of my thoughts and feelings which, I am well-aware,  are not representative of the entire disability community. You may not agree with everything I say here, that’s absolutely fine!

I was made aware the other day that there are people in this country who take groups of Disabled people to Lourdes for healing. Providing that this is at the behest of the Disabled person and they are not being forcibly removed from their homes and dragged to this place then I guess this isn’t a problem… 

Or is it… 

This really bothered me. Not because I do not believe in the power of the location, not because I do not believe in a higher power. No. This bothered me because someone out there looks at me and believes that I need to be healed.

My disability is as much a part of me as my curly hair, it’s part of my identity and not something I am at all ashamed of. In fact, it is the very thing that has opened the doors to this interesting life, full of unique perspectives and experiences. Now let me get this straight, my life is not all rainbows and sunshine. I have unique challenges and struggles that would not be present if I were abled-bodied. I rely on the care of others to do what I do and would be up the creek without a paddle if I lost my PA’s. I can’t do all the things that others can do but I have never, not even once, considered myself to be sick. 

Image description: me standing in an archway of trees on holiday in Cornwall.

Sickness is another thing entirely, it is something that knocks the wind out of your sails and stops you enjoying the things that you’d normally love. Sickness and disability are not one and the same, and they should never be perceived as such. 

This perception is dangerous as it solidifies the belief that disability is a precursor to a miserable life. That disabled people are in need of rescuing, in need of pity, in need of healing. This is something that may be true for some people but it’s not for the world to assume this is the case. That is dangerous, it leads to an ignorance that makes the world as far less accessible place. 

The very thought that any other human being would look at me and feel sorry for me genuinely makes my skin crawl. I have got the coolest of ordinary lives, I like walking my dog, popping into town for coffee and a trip to the cinema. I run a successful business that empowers others to become happier, healthier and more mobile. I get to travel and experience the world in a wholly unique way. Even better I get to use my experiences to educate society on how to be better. I am not sick, I am not ill, I am disabled. 

Image description: Me with two of my favourite things in the whole world, my Dog, Will and my Frame Runner, Rex.

In my youth if you’d offered me a magic pill I might just have taken it, like many others my teenage years were full of insecurity about my looks. In fact my disability probably sat just beneath my curly hair in the hate rankings back then. 

But now, at this point in my life, I honestly don’t think I would change a thing. The assumptions and perceptions of others are often inaccurate, and sometimes, just every now and then, we should rise up and challenge them. 

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