Recently I've been exploring what it means for me to be a writer with mental illness (depression and mild OCD). There's a great opportunity coming up to learn from writers with disabilities: (L)INK: The Write Disability, organized by the Local Poets Guild. (L)ink offers a series of readings and workshops Thursday, May 10-Saturday, May 12, at multiple venues in downtown Albuquerque and the UNM area by writers working from the broad spectrum of disabilities.
While I hope to learn something about myself in listening to them, I'm hesitant to count myself among them, both because my disability is manageable (for the most part) and because at least some of them (I'm not familiar with all) are such stellar writers.
The latter my massive ego will overcome. Regarding the former, sometimes I think I'm being presumptuous to call myself disabled, and perhaps even exploitive--the news does love a good hard luck story, and though I haven't actually shared that part of my life with any reporters as yet, it has made excellent fodder for poetry. Sometimes I think I shouldn't get to call myself disabled while I can hold down a job and other responsibilities, though I know other people with disabilities who meet that description. Other times, I think being "out" about my mental illness is an essential step towards destigmatizing disability.
I'll write later about (L)ink and what I learn from the events. In the mean time, dear reader, which me do you think is right? Do I have a right to call myself disabled? a responsibility?