Disabled People Aren’t Burdens

by Joanna No Banana
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Recently there has been a wave of articles by “credible” sources such as the New York Times implying that disabled people are burdens. One article refers to caring for someone who is chronically ill as a burden. The author heavily implies that chronically ill folks are burdens in relationships. Unfortunately, disabled people are constantly being told that they’re burdens in a wide variety of ways, ranging from relationships to the healthcare system to financial situations. It’s time for the truth to come out: disabled people aren’t burdens. 

Disabled Folks Aren’t Burdens in Their Relationships

In terms of relationships, most disabled people can still physically do a lot for their partners. They may do it differently in ways that ableds don’t consider, such as a blind person cooking dinner for their partner. They may be dynamically disabled which means that they have the energy to do things on some days but not on others.  Disabled people can still do a lot of chores, errands, etc. That being said, even someone who is completely bed bound and unable to take care of themselves can still be a terrific partner. A strong relationship doesn’t stem from how many chores someone can do. It stems from something much deeper. Something a lot more important. Relationships are based on patience, love, understanding, and being there for one another. Marriage vows have the phrase “in sickness and in health” for a reason. No matter what the circumstances may be, a couple that truly loves each other will always be there for one another. Like I mentioned earlier, someone who is bed bound can still greatly contribute to a relationship by being loving and supportive, such as talking through issues and giving praise. While it may appear a bit differently, disabled people are just as helpful in relationships as ableds. 

The Healthcare System Makes Disabled People Feel Like A Burden

A lot of disabled folks are chronically ill which means that they need to attend doctor’s appointments, perform tests, receive medicine, etc much more than the average abled bodied person. Having health insurance be tied to jobs greatly negatively affects those who are too sick to work. When you’re too sick to work, it’s almost impossible to get great insurance that covers what you need. A lack of great insurance and a lack of financial gain leads many disabled folks with chronic illnesses to continue to get sicker and sicker. The healthcare system fails to provide a situation in which these folks can do the absolute best to better their health and/or manage their conditions as well as possible. Making resources, such as doctors and medicines, inaccessible makes the entire situation worse. In this situation, disabled people are made to feel like burdens when the healthcare system fails them. They don’t receive the opportunity to try to be their best selves when they have to worry about a lack of access to healthcare which leads into the financial portion of it all. 

Human Worth Shouldn’t Be Based on Productivity

Working as a disabled person can be an extremely difficult task. Having to over-push oneself to pretend as if bodily limitations are somehow connected to character is extremely toxic. Many disabled folks feel constantly exhausted due to their work, but they have to keep going for healthcare and financial reasons. If they’re unable to work, they lose that steadiness. In our society, a person is automatically looked down upon if they’re not working. Abelds and even disabled people with internalized abelism take it upon themselves to coin it “laziness” or a “lack of effort” which causes disabled folks to feel like burdens. Disabled people aren’t burdens. The root issue is that our society measures the worth of human beings by their ability to be productive in a capitalist society, but the value of a person shouldn’t be tied to their finances or the abilities of their body. It should be based on who they are as a person at their core. However, having to rely on others and constantly stress out over finances leads to it being difficult to view things in this manner.

Disabled people contribute to society like everyone else, by being a person in society who tries their best. It doesn’t really matter that much the result of those efforts, as strange as that may sound. No matter if you’re abled or disabled, you’re not a burden. You’re a person doing their best. For what it’s worth, I’m proud of you.

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Lyn July 19, 2020 - 9:31 pm

It’s so sad to think this is a mindset for some in the year 2020. Thanks for writing about it <3

Joanna Hanaka July 20, 2020 - 1:11 am

Yes, it’s very unfortunate. Hopefully, writing about these topics can really help spread awareness.

You’re welcome!

Chanelle July 20, 2020 - 2:29 am

Thank you for writing this! I don’t think people realize how difficult it is to deal with a chronic illness and/or disability emotionally in the first place – when you add on society constantly devaluing you it can sometimes feel unbearable. I had so much guilt early on about being a burden to my family, thinking no one would ever love me and that I was useless because I couldn’t work – and I know I’m far from alone! The truth is, our unique perspectives and experiences are VERY valuable and are needed in the world. Just because we don’t fit into a societal ideal of “productiveness” doesn’t make us any less worthy.

Joanna Hanaka July 20, 2020 - 2:39 am

Yes! I think a lot of us feel so alone when disability and/or chronic illness really heavily starts to affect our lives. We have to grief over the life we used to live or would’ve potentially lived if it wasn’t for our disability and/or chronic illness. Finding the disabled/chronic illness community online has been extremely helpful for me to better understand my own worth. I try my best daily to not measure my worth by my productivity. It’s so much more freeing this way.

Eva April 13, 2021 - 8:52 am

I have universal healthcare so I don’t have to worry about that. But I do work in a small company with a small team, we’re only 6 people. I feel like a burden when I call in sick as it means my appointments, projects and workload will be paused (I work in tech support) and my colleagues have to pick up my slack with urgent cases. I often go in to work in a zombie state, where I am so fatigued that I can hardly think straight as I feel uncomfortable calling in sick again. On bad days I’m barely productive so I try to compensate on good days. I know my boss knew what he was getting himself into and is understanding, but sometimes I have the fear that it may be finite and he will hold me to account at some point for my absences. I’m working on getting better and getting my health stabilized, it’s slow going, but I’ll kepp trying.

Joanna No Banana April 18, 2021 - 5:43 am

Thank you for sharing your experience, Eva. I wish you all the best!


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