I am more than what I do, yet limited by what I have to do.

Living with chronic illness is more than a physical and mental limitation.

It can spin the perception of the lines that shape you to others as a singular aspect of being. Everything you do, everything you become, is couched either as modified by your disabilities, or worse, being a modifier itself.

Becoming accomplished is now “becoming accomplished despite disability”, diminishing the value of your product or skill in your own head. While observers can and should understand the limitations inherit in chronic illness, it doesn’t have to define everything the person suffering does. By doing so, it creates a feeling of being a child again.

“Did you draw that? My, what a talented little artist we have here! I’m going to put this right on the fridge!”

If we must define a person with disabilities, let it exist as a duality, rather than an amalgamation. Someone can be called both a father, and an interior designer, separately. A model, and an engineer. A business owner, and a marathon runner. Why can’t someone be autistic and an artist? How about a programmer and someone differently abled? What about a writer who is dislexic?

Utilize the descriptor that best fits the context of the exposition.

In some contexts, I am a web developer. In others, a musician and composer. Further still I can be described as a photographer, artist, writer, gamer, geek, and more.. And that’s before we even approach the mental and physical aspects of who I am.

Do those aspects contribute to what I do? Certainly, but I don’t do them to spite my ailments; I may have decided to try them given the limitations of (or enhancements provided by) my physical and mental aspects, but I still do them, and the fact that I have limitations that can be named specifically are in no way necessary to define every other aspect of me, as if one or the other acts as a modifier.

There are certain situations where it is appropriate to celebrate a combination of descriptors. Celebrating the first ethnicity or gender identity in an industry, action or title is entirely appropriate just because we still struggle as a whole with these issues in society, but disability has been (for the most part) accepted for a long time now, only on rare occasions becoming a source of contention.

So, if you choose to support me, and others like me, support me for what I do. Support me for how I do it. Do not, however, apply a blanket label of disability and treat it as making what I do somehow more valuable.

My choice is to grow in what I do not in relation to someone with disabilities, but in relation to my peers. Sure, in some ways, I do have to work harder to succeed, but I personally consider my ability to overcome a personal value, rather than one others should value me for.

The lines that form us may still be subject to perspective, but as we become dynamic, those lines become more detailed forms.