Hello, dear friends! As you may be aware, July is Disability Pride Month and, today, I’m going to be talking about a topic that is very close to my heart: what you should know about book blogging while disabled.
Now, I technically began book blogging before I was just formally diagnosed with one of my disabilities (POTS) but was very much struggling with it, as well as with the disabilities I’d already been diagnosed with (ADHD, depression, and anxiety). I’ve now been blogging for six years (wow!) and it has been a journey, y’all! But as I was thinking about what I wanted to post this July for Disability Pride Month, I started to reflect on my beginnings in this community and what I may have needed to hear to make it easier for me to join this community, particularly as a disabled individual.
I think, in a lot of ways, sometimes it feels like disabled folks are the “invisible” marginalized group in this community and that we don’t get much focus, not only in regards to #ownvoices representation in literature (which is still abysmal), but in regards to the bookish community itself being made accessible. I mean, when we think about platforms that tend to get the most visibility and opportunity, that’s booktube and bookstagram, which are, unfortunately, two platforms that are not the most disability accessible or disability friendly, unfortunately. I know for myself that I chose a blog as a platform in part because it seemed more accessible to me as someone who not only has ADHD, but who, at the time, was pretty confined to my bed.
So what am I getting at? Well, for those of you who are disabled and looking for a way to join this community, I’m hoping you’ll see this piece as an encouraging “nudge,” as evidence that you can be a member of this community—and a “successful” and “visible” one at that! And I very much hope you’ll decide to be.
For those of you who aren’t disabled, but who are interested in learning about the experiences of someone who’s a member of the vast and diverse disabled community, I’m hoping this piece will give you just that chance to learn a bit more.
At best, I hope maybe this post might help us make this community more accessible, disability friendly, and diverse!
So let’s not dilly dally any more—let’s jump right in!
One important thing I want to note before we really dig into this discussion is that disabilities come in all different kinds and impact people in many different ways, but regardless, each person is still valid in their experience of being disabled. Please also keep in mind that being disabled can encompass:
- having a physical disability
- having a chronic illness
- having a learning disability
- having a mental illness
- being neurodiverse
- having a visible disability
- having an invisible disability
- having one disability
- having multiple disabilities
- having a temporary and/or short term disability
- having a permanent disability
- being born with a disability
- acquiring a disability
So with that out of the way, I want to give you guys some background on my own disabled experience, so you might better understand where I come from.
I’ve had Postural Orthostatic Tavhycardia Syndrome (a.k.a. POTS) my entire life, but was only diagnosed at age 20. I experience a wealth of symptoms, namely chronic fatigue and chronic pain. In addition, I was diagnosed with ADHD at age 7 (and re-diagnosed at age 18). I also deal with depression and generalized anxiety disorder. So, as you can probably imagine, my life has been impacted by my disabilities in a myriad of ways and, naturally, that includes my life as a book blogger.
I’d say the biggest things to impact my reading and blogging life are my chronic fatigue and my ADHD. It’s difficult for me to focus and to use so much energy when reading and writing blog posts. It can be a really exhausting process, but I love books and blogging so I don’t mind the toll it can take on my energy and my body. I’ve also learned ways to minimize the impact blogging can have when it comes to my disabilities and what I can’t change I’ve come to accept and embrace as part of the deal. So here’s what I’ve learned about blogging while disabled…
Burnout is inevitable and can happen a lot quicker and sooner than it does for able bodied/neurotypical bloggers. Burnout can be a hot topic among bloggers because it’s honestly inevitable for all of us. The difference is that for those of us who are disabled, burnout can happen a lot sooner. The hard truth of blogging that no one really talks about is that it requires a lot of time, effort, and energy. And if you love blogging, you’re happy to give those things. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t eventually take its toll. This goes especially for those of us who are disabled and may have to put in extra effort, energy, and/or time.
Hiatuses (yes, that’s plural) can be imperative. Again, hiatuses are important for any blogger, but they can be especially important for those of us who are disabled. Be it long or short, few or frequent, taking time to allow your body and/or mind to rest and recuperate is really important for disabled bloggers such as myself. Taking hiatuses has allowed me to blog more in the long run rather than burning out fast and never getting back to blogging, even if I want to.
You blog when you can but shouldn’t be anxious or ashamed when you can’t. I used to feel anxious and ashamed when other bloggers would talk about how one of their tips to success was consistency and/or a blogging schedule. For me, my disabilities make having a regular schedule and being super consistent really difficult. But I remember that doing my best is enough. At the end of the day, my blogging habits are about what makes me happy and what allows me to be comfortable, emotionally, mentally, and physically.
Knowing your limits and not being ashamed of them is essential. Sometimes you can’t do the same thing as other bloggers or do as much as other bloggers without causing yourself pain. So you don’t. And that’s perfectly okay. It’s important to know your limits as a disabled person so you don’t put yourself in difficult, painful, and/or dangerous situations. And you should never be ashamed of those limits, either—knowing them is what allows for happy and healthy growth!
You don’t owe anyone an explanation or your story. Every now and again when I can’t read a book as fast as others or can’t get a post up on time or need to take a sudden hiatus, I’m tempted to explain that I’m disabled and I need time to recharge or yada yada yada but then I remember it’s okay. First off, everyone deserves to take time for themselves and their health, be it physical, mental, and/or emotional. More than that, however, I try to remember that I don’t owe anyone my “disability story.” People who like me and/or enjoy my content will understand without feeling the need to be pushy about the “why” of what I’m doing.
You CAN do this! I’m a big proponent of the belief that I am not disabled, but differently abled and that I and other disabled individuals can do anything we set our minds and hearts to, we just may have to do it differently. I’m definitely not saying that you have to believe that if you’re disabled because we all understand ourselves differently. But, that being said, five years ago I set my mind and my heart to becoming a book blogger and I’m still here. I’m not gonna tell you it’s easy, but it is possible.
So that’s it for today, dear friends. For those of you who are disabled, I hope I was able to provide some encouragement, and for those of you who aren’t disabled, I hope that I may have provided a bit of enlightenment. Blogging is such a fun time which brings with it a wonderful and vibrant community, and it’s my wish that no one ever feels discouraged from joining in because of circumstance and/or identity.
Now, with all that being said, I think it’s time for me to grab a nice, cool iced tea and to sit back, rest, and recuperate! It’s been a long week, friends, and you know what sounds good right about now? A few moments to relax! I’m gonna sign off, friends, so until next time…
✵.* • : ★ .•
SPILL THE BEANS, FRIENDS!
- How do you think we can make the bookish community more disability accessible and disability friendly?
- Do you know of any other disabled book bloggers? Give them a shout out!
- If you’re a disabled book blogger and feel comfortable sharing, what is an experience you’ve had as a disabled book blogger that you want people to know about?