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?

Views: 131

Tags: depression, disability, illness, mental, poet, poetry, writer, writing

Comment by JeSais on May 4, 2012 at 12:10pm

interesting question...  I almost wonder if I even have the right to comment on your question since I am not disabled...  though having family with mental illness (undiagnosed depression and untreated alcoholism) I would say that I agree it is important to continue to destigmatize disabilities of all kinds.  

Comment by Sari Krosinsky on May 4, 2012 at 3:42pm
I do have many abilities, but acknowledging that I have a disability has helped me to not be ashamed of the things I can't compensate for.
Comment by John Kelly on May 4, 2012 at 5:00pm

You've hit the nail on it's head: "exploitative."  Will the "handicapped" label will buy you attention...or slack? Which? Have you asked your questions of anybody on wheels, or with white canes, in person? 

Comment by Sari Krosinsky on May 4, 2012 at 10:26pm
I readily admit to exploiting anything I am and anything I experience for material. I am a writer after all :) But that's true with or without a label.
Comment by statler and waldorf on May 6, 2012 at 7:37am

Wait, there are writers out there without depression and mild OCD? Huh.

Comment by John Kelly on May 6, 2012 at 7:54am

If you are a word person you know the fundamental differences between "exploitative" and "exploiting  truth."  In addition to the moral semantics, there's self-deception.   

Comment by Sari Krosinsky on May 6, 2012 at 6:51pm
To be clear, are you attempting diagnosis via blog post, or do you think depression isn't a disability?
Comment by John Kelly on May 7, 2012 at 7:12am

Sari, I don't question your "depression"  (hopefully an MD diagnosed it, because it's treatable).  I agree with the most obvious of your stated self-diagnoses ("exploitative").

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