November 2017
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30


on the 'rudeness' of canceling/lateness caused by chronic pain/fatigue/anxiety/depression and/or ADD


icon: "strong (a photo of me in warm light with my hair down around my face, staring intensely into the camera in a defiant mood)"


Note: if I say something problematic please mention it because I'm talking about some things I don't have personal experience with (chronic pain/fatigue/anxiety) so I may be off-base and have no idea.

Being late, cancelling plans, not being up for some activity; these things are called rude and that's fucking ableist. Why? because when people with chronic pain/fatigue/depression/anxiety/other disability can't make it on time or at all, that is not* because they don't care or aren't invested in you or don't respect you, it's because it would cause them damage to do it. When you value your own time so much that you would rather someone else be damaged than 'waste' your time, you are being incredibly selfish.

I get being an ignorant ableist poopsicle because I was one before I dated Kylei and before my ADD got unmanageably bad. Kylei deals with chronic pain/anxiety/ADD and often depression/insomnia-induced fatigue. I know how very much Kylei values time with people - it's way more than me, most of the time. Kylei would rather take damage than 'waste' someone's time and so when Kylei cancels, it's because it would really damage them. And yet I've known people who act like Kylei is proving they don't care when they are an hour late or cancel five minutes before or forget the plan entirely or get hyperfocused on something/someone else and don't check in for months. It's not fucking true and it's downright cruel to suggest that Kylei's core value is meaningless to them! (I'm not saying it doesn't hurt -- I usually am fine the first two times but when it happens more than that in a row I need some reassurance that they still care and want to spend time with me. I know logically that it isn't about me but I sometimes need emotional reassurance. Kylei is always quick to give that and quick to try any potential solution I come up with.) So yeah, seeing how much Kylei cares made me realize that (shock) being there is NOT a proof of caring. A bit after realizing that I began self-educating about disability and paying closer attention and I realized how much this happens. So many friendships are built on something that only non-disabled people are capable of doing. And the reason is that people give a completely false meaning to it. Someone can always keep their plans and never be late and always be up for doing the thing you want to do and still be a terrible friend.

So my basic, decent-human level of inclusion is to be prepared for something to interfere with plans, and not to take it personally. I communicate what I want (that you keep plans and let me know as far in advance as possible if you are cancelling), and believe you when you tell me you did your best. I ask for reassurance if I start to feel neglected or avoided or whatever, and I trust that when I do, you will tell me truthfully if you don't want to do the thing with me or if you didn't have the energy to do it. I will warn you if I need to keep to a particular schedule and if so, I will just continue without you, with no resentment. If I need someone to be there no matter what, I will tell you ahead of time and check in the day before to get a more accurate prediction of whether or not you will be up for it. If you are not up for it, I will find someone else to go with me or I'll postpone. I look at it like I would weather. It's just not something you can control and predicting it is notoriously unreliable. And I do this for nondisabled people as well because you can't have true consent if saying no at any point would result in punishment (pouting/passive-aggression is certainly punishment, btw).

For me, I forget things and run out of time despite trying my absolute hardest, and I need people to be understanding of that. My memory is so awful now that I often can't tie a person to a memory. So I will remember that someone I love deeply is allergic to that flower that starts with an H and is red, or that someone I love adores a particular band, but I often can't remember who. This is another thing that is often conflated with love, and I DEFINITELY used to do it. I used to express love by carefully memorizing things and mentioning them later when they were relevant. Now I worry people won't feel loved because I won't be able to remember the right things. I still try just as hard and care just as much, it just doesn't work. (I started keeping a list on my phone of things people especially love. Hopefully that will be helpful to my memory, since seeing things in print often helps me remember better than hearing them.) Unless it's in print or photo, I have ZERO control over what falls out of my sieve of a memory, and some of my most treasured experiences are gone. I may forget the best thing we ever did together if neither of us takes photos or writes it down (even then I'll forget until I read it or see the photos). That is unbearably tragic to me and I try not to reflect on it. Please, never assume that I love you less because I forgot something. It could literally be the best thing to ever happen in my life and I might still forget it. There are countless meaningful comments, emails, and messages that I have forgotten even though I appreciated them immensely. So many things I planned to do but forgot. And I put so many reminders on my calendar already, it's just not possible to do it for everything. And then, sometimes I fucking forget what I was doing when I pick up my phone and my intended reminder never gets made!!!

When I say run out of time, I mean that I planned enough time and then some, but then my brain wasn't up to the task, and it took an extra 10-30 minutes because I kept forgetting things and going back upstairs or back in the house, or I drove right past the exit, or I forgot that I was almost out of gas, or I got hyperfocused on something and lost the time (rare because I usually refuse to get deeply involved in anything before a plan, for this reason) or I forgot to eat and was feeling shaky and dizzy and unsafe to drive and had to sit down and eat a few bites to be able to go, or I forgot why I set my alarm for that time and snoozed it too much until I realized in a panic why it was going off! I have planned for an hour extra time and still been late (because I ended up hitting traffic or something). It is not lack of care or effort. If I say I care, I'm not fucking lying. And if I make a plan with you, it's because I love you enough to deal with the stress of trying to corral my brain and enough to accept the drain of energy it takes to go out (for so many reasons, not the least of which is my needs-repair car and the expense of gas) and/or give you my full focus. I am really fucking careful with how I plan my time.

*I mean, I'm sure there are some uncaring disabled people who like inconveniencing others and just don't value the time of others, but I've never met any. I haven't met many non-disabled people like that either. I think my pile of oddities scares off most of the people who are uncaring.

back to top

Comments
kehlen_crow ══╣╠══
I don't think it's an ableist problem, rather, it's a common decency problem. Like, shit happens, everyone can have stuff come up unexpectedely.

So basically, it is just as bad to miss a meeting or be atrociously late for one and not explain why as soon as possible, as it is to read too much into someone's not showing up and be all upset if you're the one 'stood up'.


Also, your use of 'ableist' in general makes me uneasy. I will try to explain, but forgive me if I am way off or just plane wrong. Being aware of disabilities is the thing to do, no questions asked. But is also being aware of each and every one of them possible, because won't it mess with your own head? Will you not be like a soldier just returned from war seeing all the possible hidy-holes of potential hostiles (of which there are thousands, everywhere), all the time and suffer from anxiety?

I don't say disable people are hostile, heaven forbid, but always not knowing whom you may be unknowingly offending? Rather, shouldn't one just behave, well, decently and be ready to modify behavior, just without doing it all the time.


Sorry for editing the comment hours later: I was late for a day out with a friend (the irony!), didn't have time to re-read what I wrote and made a lot of typos.
belenen ══╣╠══
What makes it ableist is that it is a problem that disproportionately and systemically affects disabled people. Any kind of suffering is probably experienced by most kinds of people at some point, but there's a huge fucking difference between a handful of experiences and the constant presence or threat of that experience.

The problem is in ever assuming that "everyone can at least do this" or that only visible disabilities are things that affect everyday life.

Also no its not just as bad to be late. Being late is something you sometimes cant help. Assuming that someone wronged you by not giving their best is something you can help.

Obviously before you know you can't know and you should just do your best with the information that you have, accept what people have to say about their own experiences, and always seek to learn.

The point is not to try to avoid offending people. It's to try to avoid reinforcing and causing suffering, especially when you have the privilege of not experiencing that suffering or that level of suffering.
cheshire23 ══╣╠══
Ugh. Fear of being that rude person is why it's so hard for me to MAKE any plans. :(
eristic_writer ══╣╠══
I have really mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, yes, absolutely, I should be able to call into dates or whatever with PTSD. It certainly would have helped my education be less traumatic if I were able to do such, rather than spending endless months fighting for disability accommodations.

So yeah, I'm 100% right there with you regarding how infuriatingly ableist it is not to accept mental health explanations for missing stuff, even at the last moment. I've found I have conversations with people, fairly frequently, that go something like this:

Me: Blah blah my PTSD
Other Person: Oh, ok. Sometimes I get anxious, too.
Me: Yeah, but see, getting anxious is not the same thing as PTSD. Because in the latter case, doing this activity means I get to relive being raped. That's not the same as feeling a little anxious.

For me, revealing my PTSD means revealing I was raped; that's far more difficult, I think, than revealing that you have a non-clinical level of anxiety. And I resent it when people compare the two.

I have found that people who don't actually belong to an oppressed class are far more willing to take up the mantle of oppression than those who do.

Non-native people are thrilled to say they have "cherokee blood."
Members of non-marginalized religions are eager to steal components of marginalized spirituality.

Etc.

And in my experience, those without disabilities are frequently the ones most willing to claim disabled status, since their privilege makes it easier. So I guess my issue is that I am skeptical of those who are most willing to claim disabled status. Among my friends, those with the most severe disabilities are the ones most likely to push through the misery, while those with no disability at all are more likely to suddenly begin claiming they have one.

I'm not sure how to sort one from the other, and it's not really my job/role/right to do so. But something about allowing a free pass for basically all forms of rudeness for anyone claiming a disability just rubs me the wrong way since, in my experience, the ones most likely to benefit are the ones with no disability at all. Not that there's an easy solution to that, or that this issue in any way undermines your central claim.
rosiekittie ══╣╠══
I don't know you, but I have ADD too.... And while I don't get anxiety from worrying that I will offend (Mostly because I've decided not to give a fuck) I seriously relate to your struggle of remembering/not remembering and remembering that one thing that one time but too late to do anything about it.... It sucks. It really does. Especially when your partner is getting angry because you can't back up the thing you just said, and now you're contradicting yourself even though you didn't mean to say that first thing in the first place but you've said it and now you have to defend it, because we all say what we mean right? Well, no. We don't. I rarely say what I mean because I can't. Even if I had a fully formed thought in my head I couldn't get it to come out of my mouth in a fully formed sentence. I also can't remember what it was I just said, so now I'm saying how I feel now, but that's not what I said before... Rinse, repeat.

I have very little advice here, there's not much to give unfortunately. Make your lists, keep them in the same place. Read the whole list sometimes (if you remember... Haha). Try to keep your sanity, and love yourself no matter who you disappoint or offend. You only have you at the end of the day.... It's hard enough when the world won't love you, you don't have to join in.
chillychilly22 ══╣╠══
Dating S has been eye opening... as S has Crohn's disease and has canceled many dates with me. Interestingly, he will feel awful when he has to cancel or push back the meeting time because of his chronic illness, but wouldn't be concerned about showing up late or at all because he wanted to sleep in or just lounge around and not inform me until he felt like it. What the?! So yeah, we had a talk about that. He now calls as soon as he can regardless of reason.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.