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What we get Wrong About Codependency in Disabled Relationships.

There is a rightful conversation in the mainstream right now, prompted by lockdown move-ins and partnership breakdowns, on the question of codependency. Ness Cooper, Sexologist and Relationship Coach, explains “An unhealthy co-dependent relationship is where individuals become psychologically dependent on their partner to the extent that mutual benefits, shared satisfaction and consent are out of the equation”. 

Similarly, fellow relationship expert Gurpreet Singh defines two clear roles in codependent partnerships, the ‘giver and the ‘taker. Cooper goes on to say that codependent romantic relationships remove individual autonomy, and cause individual identities to be lost.

However, matters are more complicated for disabled folx with non-disabled partners. I rely on my partner for food, help with personal hygiene and to keep our home clean. So is our relationship codependent?

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Navigating the Disabled World with Multiple Health Conditions

I am someone who has newly entered many spaces. I often lurk from the beginning, aware I don’t know anything. As a multiply-marginalised and multiply-disabled person, it has taken me a while to get any grip on who I am and how I experience the world.

Finding labels like nonbinary, queer, disabled, and neurodivergent have been a powerful tool for me in a society that avoids talking about these communities. However, it has been a rocky journey walking among the different sub-categories of the disabled community, as someone who embodies more than one. 

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As a Type One Diabetic, I Struggled with Whether I Was “Disabled Enough”

My relationship with disability is complicated. Type one diabetes is an invisible illness, but most days, I don’t consider myself to be “ill.” I’m incredibly privileged in that the NHS allows me free access to insulin, the Omnipod Dash insulin pump and the Freestyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system. I live a relatively “normal” life, and as a result, I haven’t always felt comfortable using the label “disabled”: but was this the product of societal perceptions of disability?