Today I'm responding to this post on Feministe and discussing my own experience with disability. Part one is a narrative of my experience with OCD and anxiety. Part two is a discussion of my place between privilege and oppression and ableism terminology.
At the Feministe post above, amandaw came to the conclusion that "temporarily non-disabled" was the best way to express the privilege that comes with functioning as our society deems acceptable. I like the less ominous term "currently non-disabled" from the comments better, but in both I love the emphasis on the temporal. It helps to focus on the idea that everyone experience this oppression, or they will.
It also frames my experiences, recent and long-ago, in a helpful way. Though I am successful, and confident, and happy today, I was not at one point in large part because of ableism (and sexism, and lookism, but that's another story for another time). I did not receive adequate care for my issues with anxiety, OCD, and trichotillomania until I specifically went to a psychiatrist at 20 and said "I am having problems, and I think it might be OCD." When I went to a psychiatrist at 13, without any idea of what was going on (I was not yet skilled at Google), I was mis-diagnosed and my anxiety was ignored, in accordance with a host of other issues with that specific doctor.
I am not physically disabled, nor am I usually significantly mentally disabled.
However, I am always on the OCD spectrum, manifesting symptoms of trichotillomania (the urge to pluck one's hair out) and both obsessiveness and compulsion.
I usually commit myself to hand-wringing about my privilege, so by identifying as oppressed and not privileged in this situation is uncomfortable to me. But though this disability is invisible, and though it is not always significantly disabling, it is always there. Recognizing it, and holding a claim on being on the disability spectrum is a powerful way for me to recognize the parts of me that are unproductive, and help me to mediate and navigate my disability as a feminist.
The temporal inclusion of the terms used to describe non-disabled persons helps me claim my healthy functioning today. I'm not 100% OCD-free, and never will be. But it's currently not disabling.
I am lucky. I do not need to rely on pharmaceutical drugs to manage my disability. I'm able to manage it by fighting it mentally and taking care of my body.
However, I am not neurotypical. I think neurotypical is a useful term, but it does not describe how I function. My OCD is not disabling because I know how to fight, not because I'm rid of it. OCD is not neurotypical, and I have OCD.
It’s weird to exist between privilege and oppression, especially as a woman of mostly clear-cut and powerful privilege. To me, it’s similar to my position on the fat spectrum. I’m a size 12/14 (though that fluctuates) and 5’11, which means that I’m in between fat and slim. At times, I’ve been persecuted for my weight, at other times, praised.
I am white. I am middle-upper class. I am heterosexual. I am cis. These things aren’t going to change much. But I am vulnerable to other oppressions – gender, age, disability, and size – and my feminism fluctuates with them.