Elitist/Ableist Thinking

It really bugs me that people think that those of us who struggle to find work in a terrible economy are lazy or simply taking advantage of the system. 

Both my sister and I have benefited from EI and its social assistance over the years. It’s a very necessary program considering the economy these days. Even the Welfare program is beneficial to those without options and in terrible situations. I’ve heard stories of single women who were left to raise children and a not a penny to their name. Without these social supports, our society would be in serious trouble.

So, when I hear elitist friends say they don’t agree with living off of the hard work of others, it really irks me. At some point even the elitist may need that support. What goes around comes around. We never know what lies around the corner for us. Life is funny that way.

The same goes for the ableist mentality. This is not often thought about. People who are fully physically and cognitively able don’t think twice about their attitude toward those of us who may have challenges – be it chronic fatigue or cognitive delay or physical inabilities. It’s so easy to assume that we are lazy (which is so far from the truth). And if you don’t agree, come live a day in our shoes and see how exhausting simple daily living activities can be. Add to that the emotional stress of relationships with people who don’t “get it”, and a society whose ignorance permeates the very air we breathe…the struggle is real. If you thought tension in the air feels thick, you should experience the feeling of ignorance (and arrogance) thrust upon you. It leaves me speechless – believe it or not (?).

Why don’t you get a job and stop living off the system? You look fine. What’s wrong with you? 

First of all, appearances mean nothing. Mental health challenges are one of the most common issues in society right now. These challenges leave a person immobilized and unable to focus or think. Even on medications, our bodies are exhausted from fighting ourselves. Secondly, jobs (especially in London, On) do not grow on trees. Many decent paying positions require very specific education and training. Without the money and cognitive ability and energy to pursue such training, a person is sunk. 

So what’s left then? Where does that leave us? Minimum wage jobs do not pay the bills. Sadly, since moving back from Calgary almost 10yrs ago, I have had only one job with full time hours and decent pay. It lasted a little over a year and was an abusive situation. I was forced to quit as the owners were tired of working with my exceptionality. 

So, here I am, having been forced to start my own business just so that I had a job, and specifically one without a boss breathing down my back with unrealistic expectations. But the work of running ones own business is not exactly ideal for someone with brain injury. The payment per hour barely covers travel expenses and time spent “working”, never mind administration. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. 

But of course, I look fine. So what’s my problem? Just find another job, right? Lots of people work multiple jobs to pay the bills. Go ahead and judge me and tell me again that I’m not worth the money I charge for the service I provide. And by all means, let me know again that you don’t appreciate having to pay for someone else’s life (which is not mine, just for the record).

Lately, I just can’t stand people. ?