I’ve had some weird experiences lately.
Today, a good friend’s parents, whose known me for many years (long enough to have seen my magical transformation from person with untreated chronic illness, to person with treated chronic illness), asked me, “Have you ever tried not being on anything? Like not taking any medications?”
Yea I did. Remember how I used to be in constant pain? It’s actually why I started taking them.
Another person became offended when I suggested applying for disability accommodations, said, “No, I don’t want it on my record that I need [specific accommodation] to stay sane.”
Of course you recall my roommate’s comment that he “doesn’t want to be the kind of person who mixes medications.”
One relative said when she was my age, she had two degrees and a good job with benefits, so I “need to stop using that [my chronic illness] as an excuse” to not graduate on time.
Another relative said my “mysterious illness is [my] immune system tearing [me] up inside, just like [I] like to tear other people up” in arguments.
Yet another relative said, “I think she was more interested in exploring the world of pharmacopia, whereas I hate taking pills.” (When I asked if that’s how he saw me, he clarified that he knows I do lots of research so of course not).
A classmate asked me why I have a disabled placard.
“Because I’m disabled.”
“I thought you just had a problem with your wrist?”
“Sometimes I have trouble walking.”
“It affects my muscles with affect my joints.”
“Does it have a name?”
Another classmate, another time, found out about my placard. “You’re not disabled! Why do you need a placard? What? Because of your neck? You’re fine! That’s not a big deal! There’s nothing wrong with you!” I don’t think I’ve actually spoken to either of these classmates since, which makes it awkward as my program is not that big.
This is death by a thousand cuts. Each one may not seem like a huge deal (certainly not something to tweet about. Can you even imagine someone going so far as to shame someone else on the internet? What a horrible bitch that Adria must be), but taken together, the message is clear:
Your illness is bad and you should feel bad for having it. And it’s probably not real. Maybe you just like drugs?