There wasn’t much time between when I realised I was asexual and when I was diagnosed as autistic – only around a year. Ironically, the first person I ever came out to was a therapist I only saw once, when I originally began to fall into the mental health crisis causing the realisation that I was autistic. It’s been six years since then, and I’m still asked – or alternatively told – whether the two are one and the same.
Every year, as April approaches, I always find myself feeling a bit off-colour. My mood dips, my anxiety spikes and I have a much shorter fuse than I usually do. For a long time, I never really understood why the month bothered me so much. Then, as March drew to a close, it hit me. Autism Awareness Day was coming. And I couldn’t be less enthusiastic for it if I tried.
In the time before Covid, being deaf in a hearing world was tricky, but manageable. Those of us living with hearing loss found ways to handle our interactions with hearing society, be that technology or interpreters. For the most part we vaulted our hurdles as naturally as walking. It meant adaptations and hard work but, in the main, we got along with the status quo.
But then the world changed with the arrival of Covid-19 and entirely new hurdles presented themselves; tall, mighty and unmovable. Our strategies had to adapt, and we were going to need help.
If you are unaware, RuPaul’s Drag Race is a behemoth of a franchise. It had humble beginnings on Logo TV, but over its 12 year lifespan it has grown into a multi Emmy winning, international power house of a show that is more mainstream now than anyone could have predicted in its early days. On the show, drag queens battle it out via challenges and lip syncs to earn the coveted crown.
The show is now an international hit, with versions popping up in The Netherlands, Thailand and Canada. Ru Paul’s Drag Race has become synonymous with drag. However, the show has repeatedly let down it’s disabled contestants and disabled audience with bad representation and ableism.
Trigger warnings: Suicide. Mental health disbelief. Mention of medication/addiction.
Talking about mental health is important. It’s the first step towards getting help. It helps reduce stigma. It can help you find people who can support your recovery.
But talking to the wrong people can be nothing short of disastrous. People who are dismissive. People who are laissez-faire in the extreme. People who – be they trained professionals, public figures, or strangers on the internet – give awful advice.
It’s been an awful past 12 months, I don’t need to tell anyone that. For disabled people it’s not just been the threat of the pandemic that’s been weighing on our minds. Ever since lockdown was announced last year, disabled people were the first to be thrown under the bus and it hasn’t stopped.
Trigger warnings: Violence, Ableism, Suicide
The subject of disability representation on the silver screen is a conversation that’s been brewing for decades, bubbling in response to contentious releases such as Rain Man, My Left Foot, and Me Before You. Films like Come As You Are and Sia’s Music have brought this conversation to a boiling point, with the disability community demanding “nothing about us without us” in the face of systematic ableism within the wider film industry.
You may think that a film about a neurodiverse character being nominated for a Golden Globe is an incredible leap forward in terms of equality and diversity in the entertainment industry and you’d be correct, but Sia’s film ‘Music’ is rather the opposite.
TW: This post mentions institutional abuse of disabled people.
Recently, it was announced that the Mental Health Act would be facing some landmark reforms in order to tackle its discriminatory overuse against some of the most vulnerable groups in society.
TW: Medical fatphobia, medical neglect, eating disorder mention.
Note about language: The author of this piece uses the word “fat” to describe herself – reclaiming the word as it has been used against her in the past.
I get a free NHS flu jab. Which is apparently because my BMI (a bull measurement that was never meant to measure individuals but populations, and says nothing about your worth) is above a certain number – one which apparently makes eyes water and a nurse practitioner offer weekly weigh-ins to patients with eating disorder histories. But that’s a whole different article.