voodoodoll08: (Default)
angel ([personal profile] voodoodoll08) wrote2012-05-01 06:42 pm
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The Irony of Coping

This is my entry for Blogging Against Disablism Day

(Disclaimer: I haven't written anything like this in a long time, so please bear with me!)

Disability is a personal thing and never easy for me to talk about normally. Today, however, I am going to make an exception and just put it out there.

I have depression and anxiety.

I am privileged in a way - my mental health issues are practically invisible. Strangers do not stare at me because I look different.

Oh wait, maybe they do. I also have trichotillomania.

Trichotillomania: a word with Greek origins. It very literally (in Greek) means that I pull my own hair out. You can probably imagine the looks I get as a woman who sometimes looks like she got a haircut from an inattentive hairdresser. Some of the jokes, too.

The visibility of my disability changes depending on how I am coping. I am able to work full time but have to ask for extra sick leave when I am coping particularly badly. Perhaps not too strangely, I have found that my managers have been more accepting of this when I have recently gone through a bad period of hair pulling and 'look ill' enough for them to take it seriously. As I get better and start to look 'less ill', my attempts to pre-emptively manage my future health have often fallen on deaf ears.

As the current government is already starting to try to push and force people on disability benefits into the workplace, this attitude creates a very concerning situation. It is not enough that employers already do not want to hire people who declare long term health conditions, but those who do manage make it into the workplace also have to fight for every ounce of support. The welfare situation at the moment is a case in point: a process of taking away much needed support from people with long term health conditions because some of them are helped by it to the extent that they sometimes almost look like they are not sick anymore.

It's a catch-22.

I know I would like nothing better than to not constantly have to convince other people that my problems are real, regardless of how ill I currently look. I'm sure there are other people who share this sentiment, too.