Toxic Positivity and Disabilities

“Embrace this time of change !” the marketing email gushed. Uh, no, I said. And then I unsubscribed.

Chain link fence with yellow caution signs working about radioactivity
Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

People who are toxically positive don’t limit this approach as the right way to live their lives;

Toxic positivity tsunamis into their business and personal relationships with others.

Psychologists say toxic positivity also can have extremely negative impacts on those that are toxically positive, including being inauthentic, not fully processing feelings, and avoiding the validation of emotional experiences. This is in addition to the impact it has on the receiving end of toxic positivity including having their experience / situation being minimized, and being shamed or chastized for having negative thoughts.

  • Many of us have been let down or even abandoned by family members, schools, and employers.

Let me be very blunt here: People with disabilities are getting EFFED over in the current Coronavirus driven environment.

No lemonade, all lemons.

  1. Children with disabilities are being told through actions and words that they are not worth educating.
  2. Health care systems are telling us that if we get infected or have non-COVID related medical issues at peak times, we aren’t worth saving.
  3. Some of the businesses that are now telling everyone to work from home are the same companies who were telling people with disabilities a month ago that it was an “undue burden” when WFH was requested as a reasonable accommodation.
  1. If our medical conditions flare up (completely independent of Coronavirus) at a time when the medical system is collapsing, we are on our own
  2. Medications that some of us rely on to stay functional (especially for folks with RA or Lupus like myself) are being diverted to Coronavirus treatment and we are being “thanked for our sacrifice”. Unfortunately the health care provider that sent the email in the link above that is currently making the rounds is my health care provider too. Whose motto is “Thrive”. My doctor didn’t even bother responding to my query about plaquenil, and a second drug I have been taking for years (Actemra) I can’t get refilled either because it’s also being used in Coronavirus clinical trials. No one has bothered reaching out to me about how I’m supposed to cope with all my medical conditions with two of my go-to medications now not being obtainable. And I’m sure if I ask for more pain killers, I’ll be labeled “drug seeking”
  3. Some people with severe disabilities can’t “self-isolate”. They require care givers, which puts them at a higher risk of infection, or the need to be sent to a hospital or nursing facility if the care giver gets sick. Which in a classic viciously loop also puts them at a higher risk of getting sick. And at the bottom of the pile to receive serious intervention when the health care system gets overwhelmed by demand.
  • Others are stressed to the gills by their personal situations, afraid that they will lose access to current treatment or die by being triaged out of care in hospitals, or lose their caregivers and then get tossed into a nursing home and triaged out of care when they get sick
  • People are trapped in countries they don’t live in.
  • Not everyone has great internet access at home.
  • Some people don’t do well with change.
  • People that can just squeak by in in-person settings might fail working at home.

Blogger, disability advocate, nerd. Bringing the fire on ableism. A11y Architect @ VMware. Wheelchair user w/ a deaf daughter. CS, Law, and Business background

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