Emotional Grab Rails

Yesterday I wrote about an idea Leftwing Idiot had recently that’s helped me think differently about taking breaks and resting when I need to. With just a few words he transformed my thinking and gave me a tool with which I can break down some of my internalised prejudices about my body and my access requirements.

This isn’t the first time an idea or way of thinking has helped me think differently. I’ve recently started to think of these ideas as emotional grab rails.

If I have a physical wobble grab rails are there for me to reach for to stop myself from falling. Similarly there are some ideas that seem to sit in my mind and are there to reach for when I have an emotional wobble. Here are five of my emotional grab rails:

1) The Social Model of Disability – Disability isn’t caused by people’s impairments but by how we organise society – Mike Oliver circa 1983

2) ‘Living independently has nothing to do with doing everything ourselves without help… It’s about us controlling our own lifestyles.’ – Laurence Clark, 2005

3) Tourettes is a crazy language generating machine; not doing something creative with it would be wasteful – Leftwing Idiot circa 2009

4) “Forced Intimacy” is a term for the common, daily experience of disabled people being expected to share personal parts of ourselves to survive in an ableist world. – Mia Mingus 2017

5) ‘We take a socialist approach to energy’ – Leftwing Idiot 2019

All these ideas have radically transformed my life in very practical and powerful ways.

I think most people have a few negative ideas about themselves that they find much too easy to access when times are tough. For me these are ‘I’m a burden’ or ‘I’m too disruptive to be out in public’. I really like the idea of collecting ideas that help counteract these negative thoughts and help me feel strong.

Physical grab rails need to be positioned differently for different people – similarly emotional grab rails may be different for each person.

Life as a disabled person can be unpredictable and exhausting. These grab rails are one way I’ve found to protect myself against the relentlessness of being disabled. If you have ideas that have helped you and which might be useful for other people too please do share them by commenting below.

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