Saturday, February 2, 2013

I'm 20 and I'm Tired

Inspired by/response to I'm Tired, by Robert A. Hall, mistakenly attributed to Bill Cosby.

I'm 20 and I'm tired.

No, I'm not just tired, I'm bone-weary, literally exhausted.  I deal with multiple chronic conditions that cause fatigue.  And if my conditions themselves don't completely exhaust me, the medication I take to control them and keep me a functioning human being does.  On top of all of this, I am a full time college student who is currently in classes six hours a day with only an hour's break for lunch which is frequently taken up by meetings.  Because I am the type of person that wants to change the world and mistakenly thinks she can take up the mantle of every cause that comes her way.  Starting in April, I will be out in the field helping to teach the children of America, and even that hour's break will shrink.

I'm tired of having my competency as a teacher questioned.  I'm tired of having my right to exist as a human being questioned.  I'm tired of people killing people like me and claiming it was in the name of "mercy".  I'm tired of being told to sit down and shut up, because I can't possibly know what it's like for real disabled people.  I'm tired of being told I'm inspirational for attempting to pull myself up by my broken bootstraps, because that's the only way anyone ever gets anywhere in this society, even if we don't have bootstraps to speak of.

I'm tired of hearing killings by Muslims attributed to religion; while killings by members of any other religion are attributed to mental illness.  I'm tired of all members of a community being painted with the same broad brushstrokes as a member who did something terrible.  I'm tired of things about us being without us.  I'm tired of that being considered not only acceptable, but ideal. 

I'm tired of being shut out of the normal teenage/college student jobs because I don't have the physical ability or stamina to do them.  I'm tired of having to depend on my parents for every drop of money that comes my way.  I'm tired of working working working, barely eating, barely sleeping, putting my health at risk, for nothing but a pat on the back and a meaningless grade on a piece of paper.  I'm tired of leaving the "former employers" section on job applications blank.  I'm tired of personal attendant services and transportation being seen as optional, instead of necessary.  And I'm tired of my friends on benefits being made out to be lazy, when that money is the only hope they have of survival.

I'm tired of the assumption that everyone can drive or own a car.  I'm tired of being dependent on agencies that have no idea what my life is like or what my financial situation is.  I'm tired of the world being so panicked over "benefit scroungers", that those who are truly in need are denied, and denied, and denied again.  I'm tired of having to be grateful that I was born when I was, otherwise I would've been shut in an institution.  I'm tired of remembering that places like that still exist.

I'm tired of the discourse on disability being purely medical, barely scratching the surface of what that word, that experience means.  I'm tired of words like "suffer" and "afflicted" and "disease".  I'm tired of disability as a cultural identity being ignored at conferences and events, when we're all shouting it from the Internet, begging, pleading to finally be heard.  I'm tired of being an afterthought.

I'm tired of privilege.  And yes, it is a thing.  I'm tired of playing life on hard mode.  I'm tired of our little splintered movements that don't include each other.  I'm tired of the irony; that nondisabled women fought for so many years to be seen as more than sexy, and disabled women are still fighting to be seen as sexy at all.  I'm tired of being scared to roll around campus at night, because I can't defend myself if someone attacks me.  I'm tired of knowing that I'm nearly the perfect target for an attacker - small, weak, female, disabled.  I'm tired of the world beating me and others like me to the ground, then being surprised when we're unable to rise.

Yes, I'm damn tired.  And I'm terrified to be 20.   Because if I'm this tired now, who knows how tired I'll be at 50, or 80, or 100?   I fear for myself.   I fear for the world.

And now, I think, I will go take a nap.


Lydia Brown said...

I think I understand some of where you're coming from. Some days I just want to crawl into bed and not crawl out again for a week or a month. But then I don't.

pinkhairedknitter said...


I love this post. It captures so many of the things that I feel and I think wonderfully. Our disabilities are different, but their impacts on our lives are similar. I like that the internet is somewhere that we've been able to come together and find one another. I just wanted to say that I heard what you are saying and heard it with all of my heart. It can be such a hard place to be, but at the same time, they are our lives and we also have to make them worth living the best way that we know how. It's a complicated thing being disabled, but somehow we go on. We don't get much other choice.

Matt G said...

You say beautiful things.

Erin said...

Hello! I came across your blog going through old comments on mine. You commented on a poem I had written about CP when I was sixteen. I am 21 now. Just wanted to say that you write really well and that I empathise with where you are coming from.

Anonymous said...

I'm 23, I'm so DAMN TIRED TOO! I don't have your specific disability but I was born with one arm and I've struggled too, and I'm tired of struggling. I'm tired of always having to figure out ways to do one thing that would take anyone without a disability minutes! I'm tired of feeling trapped/limited, I want to be able to do everything and anything, or at least have the option. I'm tired of my mother telling me not to complain and saying that I could be worse off (yeah, like I don't know what it's like not to have something). I'm tired of my mom (and non disabled people) having a free easy ride in life. I'm tired of not feeling adequate or having mountains standing before me. I'm tired of judgements about me and others like me. I'm tired of being told that I was deformed for so long that I actually believe it now. I'm tired of feeling inferior, fragile, frustrated, angry, ashamed, and tired. Most of all, I'm tired of not loving/believing in myself the way I did when I was a child. There's nothing wrong with me, having a disability is in a way a gift (I can solve problems faster than most people), I've learned to depend on myself...I've just been lead to believe that I'm the problem but the truth is the world is screwed up. And I'm tired of having life/people get to me! I am handicapped hear me roar! My life isn't always easy but my disability has made me into the person I am today: compassionate, understanding, creative, independent, and hardworking! And that's something to be proud of! I'm not tired of my accomplishments :-)