Saturday, November 8, 2014

That's Not What "Personal Responsibility" Means

Personality responsibility, or at least the concept, is used to shame disabled people for their lack of "achievement" due to their living in a world that disabled them. I know people believe that idea to be silly, considering I hear/read that it is almost every day, but it is true. The truth is, blaming other people for problems I have is not incompatible with the idea. Let me explain something about the reality of having generalized anxiety disorder as I experience it, which is informed by my Autism, ADD, and currently having some weird depression-like thing I can't quite figure out: 
I cannot go anywhere without feeling some discomfort. I cannot go anywhere without feeling anxiety. I cannot meet anyone without feeling terrified. I cannot occupy a space without being frightened. There is a constant paranoia that I feel about every object, space, and person I interact with; this includes my consciousness. Every breath, every typed letter, every spoken word, every pace, every action and inaction produces an anxiety. And then there are things for which neurotypical people can feel stress over—and for me that is simply overwhelming. Every step of my existence I need to feel validation so when I am confronted with a normatively stressful stressor, I feel despair.
While all this is happening I am overcome with an inexplicable and overwhelmingly frustrating inability to plan and organize my tasks; I lack short-term memory while having a detailed long-term memory, so I can remember fear I felt half my life ago as if they were now but not if I have taken my medication tonight; I have limited energy at the end of the day because I have been assaulted with too much sensory input; and I am vigilant of the hate crimes committed against people like me with the knowledge they could happen to me or a friend. 
And on top of all that I am expected to live not as if I am normal, but exceptional at all the tasks I interact with. 
I am set up to fail with this situation—and understanding that failure in this situation is not my fault isn’t “not taking personal responsibility.” This does not mean I want the term "personal responsibility" to disappear or to never be said to a disabled person—I want it to be used correctly. (For example, someone has the personal responsibility to respect other people's boundaries.) To sum up this thought, if you cannot accept that personal responsibility (or "will power") has nothing to do with getting my homework done on particular days, then you are not willing to accept facts.

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