you might have a disability if...

Sam Warner

you might have a disability if you have to google what counts as a disability and get

frustrated when there’s no consensus, no agreed upon definition, no box to check yes/no. 

 

you might have a disability if you learn very early in life that you can’t go to certain places,

do certain things, eat certain foods, because your body doesn’t work like that, won’t let you, will struggle to recover. 

 

you might have a disability if, at fourteen years old, you get on stage for the first time

feeling like you’re about to pass out, feeling like your entire body from the hips down is nothing but aches and pains, feeling like you should have stayed home today, and you smile out at the crowd and think, “no one has any idea i’m falling apart.”  

 

you might have a disability if you, a teenager, an overgrown child, go to three different

doctors with a list of complaints (jointpainbackpaincrampsohgodthecrampsfatiguedizzinessbleedingbleedingtoomuchsleepingtoomucheatingtoomuchnoteatingenoughnotdoingenough) and are told that the real problem is that you’re fat. 

 

you might have a disability if the fourth doctor talks to you for ten minutes, orders blood

work, diagnoses you the same day, and sends you home with two prescriptions and a glimmer of hope. 

 

you might have a disability if one of those prescriptions destroys your body, kills your

organs, makes you sicksicksick until all you can do is puke your guts out and sleep for fifteen hours a day. 

 

you might have a disability if you lose a chunk of your high school years, days slipping

through the cracks and fading into daydreams, sliding into a blur of feeling bad in bed feeling bad on the couch eating so much sopa de pollo because it’s the only thing you can keep down. 

 

you might have a disability if you realize before you’ve finished puberty that you can get

away with being sick if you’re also beautiful and brilliant, always with makeup and hair done, always with something intelligent to say, wrapped up in vintage dresses that hide your assistive devices, writing essays and blog posts and text messages from bed.  

 

you might have a disability if you have your first surgery at seventeen, for the removal of

an organ that no longer functions, that has died inside of you and is slowly poisoning you, that may have been killed by the medication given to you by the one doctor who took you seriously. 

 

you might have a disability if you start college with still-healing surgical scars hidden under

your short skirts and perfect lipstick and cheerful attitude, the first of many. 

 

you might have a disability if, at nineteen, you have to decide between paying rent and

buying food that won’t make you hurt, so you decide a little bit of hurt is acceptable if it means you and your partner won’t be homeless. 

 

you might have a disability if you have to stop wearing heels at twenty-one because they

make your joints swell and hurt and anything besides comfy boots or tennis shoes gets hard to walk in after a few hours.  

 

you might have a disability if you’re constantly apologizing for being tired, for not having

energy, for needing breaks, for having to rest. 

 

you might have a disability if you can never make plans without researching the venue

ahead of time, checking for clean, accessible bathrooms and a place to sit down and an allergy-friendly menu.  

 

you might have a disability if you realize at twenty-three that you now have days when

stairs are difficult, then get frustrated with yourself because you eat healthy and go to the doctor and take your meds and meditate and do therapy and healthy twenty-three year olds aren’t supposed to hurt when they go up stairs. 

 

you might have a disability if you get frustrated with yourself for being frustrated because

this is the only body you have and you love it, you really do, but you can’t help but notice that certain things seem easier for everyone else. 

 

you might have a disability if you read a book on disability justice and cry your little heart

out because these words are describing your life and it feels so good to be seen and it’s okay, this book says, it’s okay if your body doesn’t fit the ableist heteropatriarchal capitalist system it was born into.  

 

you might have a disability if the word “disabled” makes your skin crawl when you try it on

for size, because you’re already queer and neurodivergent and mentally ill and pagan and fat and god, can’t there be one thing about you that’s normal?  

 

you might have a disability if admitting you have a disability feels like giving up, like

admitting that you couldn’t do it, couldn’t swing it in the “real” world, couldn’t fake it till you make it, couldn’t just do yoga and drink kale smoothies and believe yourself into normality. 

 

you might have a disability if admitting you have a disability also, somehow, feels like

coming home, like being really honest with yourself and your body, like a warm hug from someone who knows, they know and they’re so sorry. 

 

you might have a disability if writing this poem made you cry, because it felt like peeking

into the closet where you keep all the things you don’t ever want to talk or think or write about. 

 

you might have a disability, but what if you don’t? what if you’re

fakingitoverreactingbeingahypochondriacbeingdramaticdoingitforattentionjustlazynotsickenough? what then?  

Spring DEI 2022