Friday, August 12, 2016

Discovering Another Poet's Diagnosis

I found out (on Twitter) a poet I admire has multiple sclerosis.  In every biography I can find on him, there is no mention of it, though he offered the information freely.  It took me by surprise.

Why isn't it common knowledge?  Is he afraid people will see his (many) accomplishments differently?  Is it a fairly new diagnosis?  Does he just not identify as disabled?

I wanted to fire off a billion questions.  I did ask when he was diagnosed, but he didn't answer.  I didn't ask anything else because, no matter why there wasn't a response, it isn't my business.

We are not entitled to other people's medical histories or a detailed disability report just because we, ourselves, are disabled.  It isn't our place to categorize someone as disabled.  We wouldn't want someone making decisions about us we didn't agree with.

It did affect me, knowing he has MS.  I felt excited... and scared... and sympathetic... and honored.
He didn't have to tell me.  I wonder how he's going to navigate our ableist world when he's not considered able-bodied.  I have something (somewhat) in common with him besides writing.
Our brief exchange also made me question (again) my decision to omit my disability status with most of my published works, something I debate a lot.  Does the stigma some editors may have outweigh presenting more of my true self?  Is the fear an editor will publish me just to increase "minority representation" in her magazine more important than telling future crippled writers that there are other literary cripples (me, in this case) gaining visibility?  Is disclosing my disability on Twitter and my blog enough?

I am not sure.
Have you ever discovered someone you admired was disabled/neurodivergent?  Did it change how you thought about things (them, the world, yourself)?
Would you ever disclose (or stop disclosing) your disability status?  What could make you decide?

No comments:

Post a Comment