How Persons With Disability Can Improve Unhealthy Traits
One of the good things about being married to a person with disability (PwD) is that I can talk to my husband, Jared, objectively about disability and chronic illness. We often have conversations about it, and we aren’t afraid of self-criticism. In fact, we value it for the sake of self-improvement.
As husband and wife, Jared and I want to be the healthiest versions of ourselves for each other. We don’t want our relationship to become unhealthily skewed to benefit one partner while the other suffers. To prevent that, we check in with each other and openly describe our feelings.
Jared and I are in an interabled relationship. This means we have a vastly different set of abilities. He has hemophilia and a seizure disorder, while I am lucky to have no known physical issues, although I am neurodivergent. His normal is different from mine, yet we work on being able to coexist.
We both agree that PwDs may unwittingly demonstrate toxic attitudes while in interabled relationships. Yet I’ve noticed that this isn’t a popular topic in disabled circles. We often talk about the way social inequalities negatively affect the well-being of PwDs, yet not about how the experience of disability may affect one’s interpersonal relationships.
As a PwD, Jared says he doesn’t want to be seen as a burden. For this to happen, he acknowledges that he needs to conduct himself in a way that doesn’t offend or bother others. He must be able to acknowledge any toxic personality traits he might have, and learn to work on them.
Jared and I came up with a list of toxic traits that PwDs might consider working on, if applicable:
Life with a disability is hard. But other people also experience hardships in their lives with varying difficulty. It’s tempting to compare one’s own life with others.
I admit that whenever I’m frustrated, I tend to feel bitter toward people who have never experienced anxiety, depression, or any other type of hardship in life. Just because I believe their lives are easier than mine, despite never having walked in their shoes, it doesn’t mean I can dismiss their struggles.
People with disabilities also should be mindful that a “disadvantaged” position in society doesn’t give anyone the right to invalidate other people’s struggles.
Jared admits that he sometimes finds himself falling into the trap of a victim mentality. People with this mindset may feel as if the world were against them, including people who truly care about them. In doing so, they disregard other people’s feelings and end up having a myopic, self-centered view of the world.
They also develop insecurities. And from insecurity stems anger toward oneself and the world, as well as the possibility of harming oneself and others.
It can be difficult for a PwD to “escape” a victim mentality because it’s often socially conditioned. Nevertheless, a first step would be acknowledging that struggles in life are always present regardless of one’s situation. Something always can be done about our problems. Oftentimes, all we need is a shift in our thinking — instead of focusing on making our problems go away, we can work on lessening their effect on our lives.
I recently came across a social media post calling out people’s tendency to say, “I am what I am; I cannot change.” In lieu of this mindset, the post advocated for acknowledging one’s weaknesses and working hard to improve.
PwDs may feel bound by their physical limitations and believe they can’t do much. They may think that other people must always adjust to them because “that’s the way it is.” Other people may end up resenting them due to the real-life burden they cause. This isn’t their fault, it’s the fault of their sickness, but PwDs can improve themselves by learning to manage their condition well.
Regardless of who we are or how kind we try to be, we will inevitably hurt others at some point. This is just a fact of life because we are human, and no one is perfect. It only becomes problematic when we refuse to take responsibility for our own actions.
Jared takes responsibility for his actions as a husband and dad, as I do for my actions as a wife and mom. Hemophilia, seizures, and mental illness do not excuse us from being accountable for our actions.
PwDs can enjoy healthy and meaningful relationships with other people. They can be empowered. But they must also learn to empower themselves. For Jared and me, this starts with being less toxic.
Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.