Disabled Disability

I had intended to write here quite a bit more than I have on disability.  This is really saying something.  Eighteen years ago I had viral encephalitis.  It damaged mainly my temporal and parietal lobes.  Making any kind of statement is remarkable.

For most of that time, I did not have much of a disability identity. While I had various and sometimes overwhelming reactions to what had happened, I rarely used the word “disabled” itself.  It was more like “Something happened” followed by various negative emotions mixed in with a lot of confusion, mixed in with a kind of clarity I struggle to explain.

The word I’m most likely to use in my own head is “brokenness”.

This brokenness is certainly the loss of function, of ability.  I have trouble making sense.  Whatever eloquence I attain here requires a lot of effort and leaves me both exhausted and in pain from the effort.   Sometimes I just talk repeating myself in increasingly tighter  circles.  Suddenly seeing a clock I might realize that 15 minutes had passed.  Seeing the worry on my listener’s face, I wonder if it had been all gibberish or “just” a semantic vortex.

This is from a general difficulty processing information, rather than extensive damage to my speech centers – although there is some of that.  Whether the information comes from raw external stimuli, my own mental processes or a combination of the two doesn’t matter.  My experiences of time, object permanence and memory are all impaired, altered, something different.  So I have trouble both making sense and making sense of.

But this brokenness is also a breaking open, a kind of general breaking open of how things are, the beautiful assault I’ve referred to before.  I would have never chosen it, but there it is.

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