Sunday, June 20, 2010

Let's set some stuff straight.

Apparently I've caused quite a stir.

Thankfully, because I'm not obsessed with Twitter I have managed to avoid the 'discussion' (read: people telling me off like a naughty child) about my previous post.  And I don't WANT to know what people are saying about me, because a) they do not know me, and b) only three of them have bothered to start a real 'discussion' with me about it on my own sodding blog.

This whole thing started off with this headline: Spoons aren't just for sick people.  Apparently this has been deemed EXTREMELY inappropriate in the blogosphere (and I thank my only positive commentator, Jemimaaslana, for bringing this to my attention), EVEN THOUGH the author of the article I linked to (here) uses the word 'sick' herself!  Imagine my dismay when I find out people haven't even bothered to look at the original article and explore the rhetoric for themselves.  I'd say that's almost as bad as judging me and my blog without engaging me in debate.

So the heading of my post enraged 'Annoymous' (and Anji, I'm totally calling you out on this one.  I know it was you and I'm gobsmacked a woman of your drive and passion didn't have the guts to put their name to that comment), and that started a small snowball of anger, judgement and (hee hee) visits to my and Anthea's little innocuous blog about parenting, health and lifestyle choices.  People with disabilities (I looked this up in the Guardian Style Guide to be certain, and this is the correct term, so don't you dare shoot me down for any terminology I'm about to use) are apparently very upset that: a) I wrote about a theory which they, and ONLY they are allowed to claim for themselves; b) that I myself am not disabled; and c) that I have the audacity to use the word 'sick' instead of 'disabled', even though (as I mentioned earlier) that is the phrase the author of the original article used herself.

The whole thing has surprised me, to be honest.  Readers of my blog posts will know my history of managing a mental illness, looking after a disabled child, and growing up with another.  I am not claiming to be disabled myself; I think that's rather stretching it a little, to be honest.  What I AM claiming, however, is that I can EMPATHISE with the author of the original article (and if you look back, you'll see that's exactly what I wrote), and use her theory in my own situation.  I have been criticised for not 'checking my privilege' and trying to claim words and devices people with disabilities claim for themselves, and themselves only.  To me, I can see both sides of the debate.  I can understand why a woman would not want a man to claim certain words as his, and I can understand why a man claiming 'female' words for his own is also important to the development of equality.  Apply this to any other dichotomy and you'll come up with the same.  But no, I do not pretend, or claim, or anything else, to be disabled.  I do not qualify for Medicaid, which my son does as he has chronic conditions that cost him, his family, and the state money - so we are assisted.  But I do receive treatment for an adjustment disorder with depression and anxiety.  It certainly doesn't ENABLE me in any way, but it doesn't DISABLE me, either.   I consider it to be neither.

Not that it's anyone else's Goddam business, but I do know a little something of disability.  I grew up with it, for a start, and very rarely, if ever, discuss my younger sister's conditions because she is not able to grant me permission to do so.  But she has had such a massive impact on my and Anthea's life that for people to fling around comments that I know nothing about disability, is just rude.  I also have a son with various health issues, and being a mother to him has caused my mental health to suffer.  So again, saying I know nothing is just plain rude.  And wrong.  And irritating.  YOU, on the other hand, know nothing about V, or Little O, or my mental health, because you haven't bothered to ask.

I'm going to keep my previous post up because I stand by what I've said.  I also apologise to anyone I've upset or offended, because that was not my intention (and you must see that, if you're honest with yourselves).  Perhaps I'll use the Spoon Theory again to illustrate a point, and perhaps I won't.  I haven't decided yet.  But next Friday, when I'm so exhausted that I cannot lift my head of the floor, I will think about you lot.  And I will think about how closed-minded YOU'RE being that you cannot believe a young mother with a mental health issue can ever feel as tired, challenged, or frustrated as you.  Because believe me, it isn't the case.

Please, engage with me in a sensible, adult debate on MY blog, where I can respond to you.  Don't be cowards and hide your Twitter posts.  If you feel that strongly, you shouldn't be afraid of the challenge.

With respect,



  1. My problem wasn't that you were using the theory per se, because if you considered yourself to be disabled then you have a claim to it. However, your title implied that Spoon Theory was for the taking by anyone disabled or non-disabled, who wanted to use it - which is simply not right. I'm sorry if I've caused you upset; I actually stated in the conversation I was having on Twitter/Facebook that I'd been too hasty in my reaction.

  2. Also, I don't deliberately 'hide [my] Twitter posts' - my whole Twitter feed is locked because my son's father's friends were stalking me and causing trouble for me by using what I said in the feed to report back to him about my life.

  3. And not to spam you, but is there an email address I can contact you at please? Mine is if you'd prefer not to put yours in a public place.

  4. Tina, there's nothing to apologise for.

    I feel like someone needs to state the obvious. The Spoon Theory is an analogy, right? An analogy? How about the word ‘metaphor’?

    Just because it was created by a lupus sufferer (as far as I know but actually, its originator is irrelevant) doesn’t mean it is exclusive to those who are ill or disabled or whatever else you solely want to attach it to. Having an analogy that is exclusive to a certain group of people defies its purpose of being an analogy; a comparison, a metaphor – whatever you want to call it. The purpose of her theory – I would imagine – is to make it understandable for people who are not in her shoes. Why you think Tina can’t apply this metaphor to her own life and experience when it makes perfect sense to do so is beyond me.

  5. Anji - I'm not sure exchanging e-mail addresses is wise right now. I think I'd prefer our conversations to be on here, or over on the Mothers for Women's Lib forum. Let's give it some time for everything to blow over.

    But I do appreciate you making yourself public, and perhaps we've all learnt a lesson from this debacle. I'll be more aware of who is reading my blog, and you won't be quite so quick to judge its content.

    Butterfly - You know how much I respect you, so thanks for standing up for me. You're keep me grounded, friend.

  6. I wanted to apologise to you privately and explain my actions, and I'd like to do that via email if possible. I understand your reticence, though. If you would like to read my apology, the offer stands and you have my email address.