20 Things Disabled Latinx Are Tired Of Hearing From Their Familia
Handling a disability can be particularly disturbing when you’re a Latina. While we know our family means well, sometimes the things they say to us can be just plain mean and harmful. A lot of it stems from our culture not understanding disability and seeing it as something bad. Being disabled isn’t bad, it’s the lack of accessibility for us that makes people think it is. Life is great being disabled, sometimes it’s difficult but overall most of us are happy with our lives. The only thing that would make it better if some of our family would stop saying the following:
1) Estas bien, hay gente que esta peor que tú
We’ve all heard this before, “there’s always someone worse off”. And while this is probably true, everyone’s reality is different. Comparing a disabled person’s experience to others doesn’t change the fact that your family member is going through a hard time. And this phrase is only going to make them feel worse than they might already do about themselves. Instead of dismissing what they’re going through, just ask how you can help.
2) You’re not praying hard enough
Listen, some Disabled Latinx are religious and some aren’t but saying that we’re not praying hard enough in order to “feel better” or be healed is really messed up. For those of us that believe in God, we know he helps us in ways that only we understand, but praying isn’t going to magically cure us. Praying helps as a way to vent our troubles but what we really need is your support and access to good healthcare. Praying isn’t going to do that.
3) Mira, tu prima is vegan and it cured her *insert illness*, maybe try that
We can’t deny that a vegan diet has helped many people with their illnesses or have overall improved someone’s health. That’s great for them, but that doesn’t mean it’s a cure all for disabled people. All of your primos could be vegan and be “healthy” that doesn’t mean our body is going to react the same. It may ease some of our symptoms but trust us, a vegan diet isn’t going to cure us and we’re tired of you reminding us that it helped our cousins.
4) All you do is sleep!
Listen, being disabled is exhausting. Everything we do, even if it seems simple can be very draining when you’re dealing with chronic pain. Sleep isn’t something we’re doing to be antisocial or to skip setting la mesa for dinner. Sleep is helping us conserve and recover our energy that we lost from doing our daily tasks. But yelling at us that all we do is sleep is invalidating of our experiences and makes us feel bad. If it were up to us, we’d love to be present all the time, but we can’t if we want to keep our body going.
5) Mentirosa, you were fine yesterday!
I know, I know, yesterday I was having fun with the family and I seemed to be doing well. But that was then this is now. Disability is fluid and some days are really good and some days aren’t. It’s a gamble for many of us who are disabled when we wake up in the morning. But instead of being upset that today we can’t do anything with the family because we need to rest, be happy for the days when our symptoms ease up and let us spend time together.
6) Have you tried yoga?
I’m just gunna make this quick and simple, YOGA DOES NOT, I REPEAT, DOES NOT CURE DISABILITY. Sure, it may help ease some people’s symptoms but listen to us when we tell you we’ve tried it and it doesn’t work for us.
7) Ponte de Vaporú
Mami, Abuela, Titi….please don’t get mad when I tell you this but vaporú isn’t going to fix this. We know vaporú is the reason generations of our family hasn’t died, but the most vaporú will do is clear our sinuses, it won’t fix our pain. You can still put vaporú on us…just maybe by some motrin as well?
8) You’re not a vieja, you don’t know pain
You don’t have to be old to be in pain. Young disabled people exist and we deal with pain the same as our abuelos. The only difference is we didn’t have to age to get like that. Please don’t dismiss our pain by telling us that we couldn’t possible have it or understand the aches unless we were old. It just adds more pain to us listening to you lecture us.
9) Ay, bendito
This phrase is the most insincere “poor baby, get over” thing you could say to us. Sure, maybe you mean well by thinking you’re sympathising but this comes across as you not wanting to engage. Talk with us about our experiences with our pain and disability but don’t deflect by saying “ay bendito”. We don’t need sympathy here, we need empathy.
10) Don’t talk about your illness, it makes me sad
Please remember famila that while your feelings are valid and we know that our pain does make you upset because you feel helpless, telling us not to express what we’re going through because it “upsets you” is sh*t. If we can’t confide in our family, then who can we talk to? We will give you room to process your feelings but we need your love and support and sometimes that means putting your feelings on the back burner with the frijoles, so you can be there for us when we need it.
11) The doctor knows more
Doctors know a lot considering how long they spend in school and I know you trust what they say but they don’t know everything. And they definitely don’t know what it’s like to live in a disabled body. A lot of times our experiences don’t match what doctors think they know about our disability. While it’s okay to take what the doctor says into consideration, please listen to us too. We are the ones who know our bodies the best.
12) Natural medicine will cure you
Medicina natural can cure a lot of simple things like the common cold and sure it may even help ease our pain. But telling us that it’ll cure us and do a better job than modern medicine is wishful thinking. If natural medicine could cure us, we would of taken it a long time ago. Modern medicine isn’t evil (the companies behind it are but that’s a topic for another time) and neither is natural medicine. They can work together to help ease our pain but they won’t cure us.
13) It’s all in your head
Mental illness is definitely in someone’s head, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real. Mental illness, chronic pain and any other disability isn’t something we’re making up for fun or attention. They serious things that should be treated as so. Dismissing us when we tell you something is wrong is just going to make things worse and make it harder to seek the help we need. Believe us when we tell you something is wrong.
14) Only white people have that
Contrary to what people believe thanks to media making #DisabilityTooWhite, disability/mental illness isn’t “just a white people thing”. Disability is present in all races and ethnicities. By not only dismissing this fact in general, you’re telling us that you don’t believe we are sick. This mindset is the reason so many disabled Latinx/PoC are less likely to access the proper healthcare needed to care for our illness.
15) Why are you using your *insert mobility aid*, you’re giving up
I promise you, using a wheelchair, cane, braces anything that’s a mobility aid isn’t us giving up. In fact, our aid gives us the freedom to enjoy being with you during parties or vacations. Without our aids, it will be difficult to walk and as much as you want us to walk with no “problems” that’s not going to happen. Look at our aids as something positive, without them we’d be stuck in our room and never “experiencing life” the way you so desperately want us to do.
16) You’re doing this to hurt me
For many Disabled Latinx, we have a deep love for our family and only want the best for them. The last thing we want to do is hurt anyone, but saying that our disability is hurting you because you’re “upset” when we can’t do something or you think we’re not “trying hard enough” is abusive. You’re making our disability and our life about you and your feelings when it has nothing to do with you. It’s saying that our existence is troublesome for you, and that’s not the unconditional love families like to talk about having for one another. You’re allowed to feel upset but remember that our disability isn’t and will never be about you or there to hurt you.
17) Nena, you’re too pretty to be in this much pain
Hold up, so you’re saying disabled people can’t be pretty because they’re disabled? Being pretty doesn’t matter when it comes to chronic pain or disability. You could be the biggest supermodel in the world and still deal with chronic pain. Once again, saying we’re too pretty to be in pain is dismissing our experience instead of acknowledging and supporting us.
18) Put some makeup on, you’ll feel better
I love putting makeup on like anyone else, and sure it lifts my spirits up when I do. But if we tell you we’re hurting or we need to take our time with something because we’re having a bad day, just telling us to “freshen up” and that’ll make all our problems go away is hurtful. It doesn’t help us by saying this, so just stop and ask what can make us feel better.
19) You’re not disabled mija, you can do so much!
Let me make this as clear as possible, DISABILITY ISN’T A BAD THING. Admitting to yourself that we can’t do some things doesn’t take away from what we can do. It’s important to recognize that our disability will stop us from doing things but that’s the same for people who aren’t disabled. There are still things you can’t do either, but that’s not a bad thing. Ignoring our limits as disabled people and only focusing on “what we can do” can put us in danger if you force us to do something we’re not able to do.
20) I didn’t want this life for you
As parents, you’ve probably had an idea of what your hija’s life would be like and disability wasn’t a part of that idea. And that’s okay but the reality is, we’re disabled and that’s also okay. You may have not wanted this life for us but it is what it is. Disability doesn’t mean our life isn’t going to be amazing, it just means it’s going to be different from your experience and that’s fine. As long as we work on making things accessible, we will thrive and live a better life than you ever planned for us.
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