Author Archives: Trish Robichaud

Attitudinal Attire, a New Dress Code

abstract painted mannequins in a row naked facing wall with hands overheadWe who experienced attitudinal barriers staring us in the face were artists waiting to be rendered. We were dancers behind the curtains waiting in the wings for our curtain call.  We were angry emerging specimens, angry pieces of art.  We were morose, manipulated, mannequins, with people
gawking at our visage and looking right through us, as if we did not exist.

We were unfinished and angry pieces of art. We were kept in the shadows and not in the light of day, with everyone writing our story.  We did not write our own stories. We were experiments, and we were not supposed to live.  

We were experimented on by all sorts of people including rehabilitation counselors, psychologists, therapists and social workers, and teachers who put a label on us as maladjusted and closed the box. Some people I knew when I was young and grew up in New York are gone now to cancer, due to rape and disappointment in life.

I don’t want to blame anyone. Everyone is complicit in society. It’s a systemic problem, and everyone reinforces everyone else’s stereotypes. Everyone drinks the same Cool-Aid. They are numb to the feelings they would have if they themselves would have a disability. It’s too frightening.

So, instead we are sitting on the sidelines. Attitudinal barriers are on both sides of the fence.  People with disabilities can destroy each other. Addictive patterns can bring that level of toxicity and negativity to ourselves.  We spoil our genuine empathy, and turn on each other instead of being vulnerable.  We shame each other, and cover up that vulnerability.
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Recognizing and Responding to Depression

As people with various disabilities, whether acquired or congenital, through accident or disease, we often lose friends, becoming isolated, labelled and judged, as a result of fear and misinformation.

This increases the likelihood of becoming depressed and caught up in a spiral of thoughts that drag us down into emotional and physical malaise. When people stare at us, want us to disappear, separate and segregate us, they treat us as the “worthy poor” from a book entitled Blaming the Victim.

Whether it is the death of a loved one or a lingering illness in the family, family crisis can be more traumatic for people with disabilities than the average person.

Disabled people also self-medicate with substances more than average to mitigate emotional distress. At SafePlace in Austin, Texas, trainers train service providers and advocates, as well as survivors, to notice signs of  trauma and depression.

The most important thing is to admit that you are depressed. Many of us, women and especially men, often don’t recognize that things are creeping up on them. By the time they’re in overwhelm mode and have reached a fever pitch, their ability to cope is compromised.

Imagine if you finally have the nerve to seek out help and you are met with a a dismissive attitude that’s borne of fear and ignorance. Ignorance around how to support your disability-related needs and the irrational fear of “catching” your condition.
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