Psychiatric Evaluation Test

Identity and Disability

Switching over to University life has been quite an adjustment, so apologies about my absence here. I had an opportunity to speak to a class of Social Work majors last week and something I said that rather surprised me was on the topic of how dehumanizing dealing with human welfare based services can be.

Trying to explain the experience and impact of the very perfunctory and stressful meetings was actually much more emotional than I had thought. Even removing the pressure that a lot of these appointments can and will dictate things like the number of benefits you may receive, what kinds of services you’re entitled to and your monthly income you’re still left with confronting very hard realities in a less than understanding environment.

Talking frankly about the various ways you can be seen as lacking when compared to an able-bodied, neurotypical person even when the aim is to get help or assistance to make things better can be a bit of a painful exercise in self-awareness. As a simple example, I was asked about how hard of a time I had with buttoning buttons. I had never expressed out loud to anyone that buttons and zippers and laces are typically very difficult for me and I avoid them unless necessary. I just adapted to the obstacle and didn’t give it much thought. What other things had I ‘adapted’ to and didn’t really know about? How can I succinctly describe the hourly mental gymnastics I perform to survive with my mental disabilities and how that impacts what I can do?

This can be the beginning of many different lines of thought. Am I *ACTUALLY* disabled? Am I disabled *enough*? Is being disabled bad? Is physical disability ‘worse’ than mental? Even if discussing the nuts and bolts of your day-to-day lived experience and realizing that it isn’t the ‘norm’ isn’t somehow triggering for you, giving a history or having an assessment or really needing some paperwork filled out or requiring a referral is an exhausting rollercoaster that can seem impossible to approach and can leave you mixed up afterward.

Personally, I’m still trying to reform the weird shards of my identity while continually brushing up against these experiences time after time. Something will start to feel comfortable and then I have an interaction or realization that changes my opinions or feelings. Discussing my interactions and my experiences with social services, doctors and professionals out loud, in front of others, publicly and here on this blog helps me to synthesize the ideas I’m left with.

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