By Josie Quinn
“I was a proud, confident, bisexual woman, with every future stage of my life and career meticulously planned. At that time I had no idea that a few years later I would have to come out all over again, as someone with disabilities.“
In my early twenties I thought I was done with coming out: the long, awkward heart-to-hearts, the well-meaning friends who wanted to be supportive but weren’t quite sure what to say, the comebacks prepared and my skin thickened ready for the ignorant remarks and judging looks of strangers. I was a proud, confident, bisexual woman, with every future stage of my life and career meticulously planned. At that time I had no idea that a few years later I would have to come out all over again, as someone with disabilities.
Before I turned 30 I had moved back in with my parents, after Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Osteoporosis, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as well as the associated pain and medications, brought my legal career to a halt. Due to worsening mobility and pain, I had also started having to use a walking stick or wheelchair at all times, and although these helped me get around, they also effectively outed me to the world as a disabled woman.
Anyone who saw me could also now see that there was something “wrong” with me, and although in general people try to be kind/helpful, I have lost count of times I have been asked, by total strangers: “What’s wrong with you then?” or “So what did you do to yourself?” or similar questions. People would talk to the person pushing my chair rather than to me, lean on the back of my wheelchair, and even push me out of their way without speaking to me at all!
At first I thought the best way forward was to simply appear as able-bodied as possible; I tried to avoid taking my wheelchair places, and would force myself to walk with my cane despite excruciating pain. Eventually I nearly stopped going out altogether, and I remember how depressed I felt at the time, believing that my disabilities were stopping me from doing so much.
It took a few years, some hard work, and a fantastic support group to bring about the now obvious epiphany: it wasn’t my disabilities stopping me, it was just my anxiety about how the world views my disabilities.
So now I wear wristbands proclaiming Chronically Ill & Chronically Fabulous, and am so thankful for my wheelchair, which gives me the freedom to still go out and have fun. I’ve used my wheelchair on the dancefloor, I’ve even used it to see Pompeii! And most importantly, I now speak up when someone thinks it’s okay to treat a wheelchair-user like a piece of furniture!
Because I realised that my disabilities are just like my sexuality: I didn’t choose them, but I can choose to be proud of them.
Josie Quinn (she/her) is in her early thirties. She is a proud bisexual, disabled wheelchair-user and self-professed total geek! She worked as a Legal Executive before becoming too ‘Chronically Fabulous’ to continue, having been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Osteoporosis, CFS, Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD. In her spare time she’s an avid reader (sci-fi, fantasy & graphic novels especially), amateur cosplayer and burgeoning tattoo addict. Twitter.com/Bendy_NotBroken … Instagram.com/BendyNotBroken
Read all of Josie’s Chronically Fabulous posts
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