Don’t feel guilty to be disabled – it’s not your fault

A friend who wishes to remain anonymous wrote a post about NOT FEELING GUILTY FOR BEING DISABLED which I think is beautifully worded, and says exactly what needs to be said:

We didn’t choose this

“We –all of us—need to work on not doing this to ourselves. Knowing what you do about living with this illness, if your good friend or your daughter had it, would you blame her or think she was lazy if she didn’t bring a dish to the holiday dinner, or help with the clean-up? No! You’d tell her how glad you are she was well enough to be there with you, and that you appreciate her making the effort, knowing what it will cost her later. We need to give ourselves the same love we’d give to a dear friend. We need to be loving friends to ourselves.

“When we feel guilty for being sick, or for the limitations the illness places on us, it’s like blaming ourselves. It’s like saying that being sick is something we choose. It’s like we believe the negative stereotypes that some people lay on us.

“Do you think someone undergoing chemo for cancer should feel guilty for losing their hair? Would you think a paraplegic was lazy for not running the hurdles? Is someone with Alzheimer’s to blame for not remembering things?

“We did not ask to get sick, nor did we bring this upon ourselves. It is not a choice. And we are not to blame for the limitations that the illness places on us or for its symptoms, any more than that cancer patient, paraplegic, or Alzheimer’s patient.

“We owe ourselves respect. It’s enough that we are sad about the things we can no longer do, and that, perhaps worst of all, we have to live with the regret for things we’re unable to do for others. We really must work at not allowing ourselves to feel guilty. Because we aren’t guilty of being sick, we’re just sick.

“If I sound vehement, it’s because I struggle with this, too. I think most of us do. And we need to remind ourselves and each other not to succumb to guilt. We deserve better.”

Still struggling

I couldn’t agree more – I stupidly struggle with the exact same feelings, especially when the holidays come, and everyone seems to be able to kick it up a notch and do all the extra things which come along – while I am even more dysfunctional because I can barely handle one thing at a time on my better days.

Disability is not a choice – what we do with it IS.

The frustrating world of the healthy

The ‘well’ world in general seems to think people with disabilities – or even babies and old people – do things deliberately to get in its way, to take up more than our fair share of space and resources. This attitude is ridiculous – because it remains unexamined until someone becomes disabled, or has a child, or has a parent develop Alzheimer’s, or… and then that person 1) learns too late what we already know, and 2) becomes useless because he or she is now tainted with the same disability ‘cooties’ by association – and gets kicked out of the ‘well’ world.


6 thoughts on “Don’t feel guilty to be disabled – it’s not your fault

  1. Zoe

    Yes thank you for this. I’m an autistic and socially anxious writer who was feeling bad because I don’t get paid for my work and I overspent my disability last month because of moving house and had to dip into savings. Even my usual mental health friends didn’t say ‘you know it’s ok not to work if you can’t’.
    I don’t plan on making it a regular thing to dip into savings but I’m glad I don’t need to do the whole job hunting thing to be a worthwhile person, or even a productive one. I wish society didn’t make it so hard for so many people but none of those people who are disadvantaged are at fault for it!


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Welcome, Zoe.

      I’m glad you commented. Moving is a big stressor.

      There is no point in making ourselves sick/sicker by attempting to work when we can’t do a good job of the work itself. And in very rare cases is the work worth what it costs us, so we get to choose those cases.

      We all would rather work at something useful that doesn’t consume our entire resources for living. I had that for the early part of my life, and I miss it – and I also know I can’t do that or anything remotely useful for a ‘normal’ work day. I also know that CFS only gets worse when you continually stress yourself, robbing you of any capacity for recovery. I didn’t have a ‘choice’ to make; the illness made it for me.

      I hope you can find something helpful for your social anxiety, for your own sake. Being autistic is limiting for many people – society in general isn’t good at allowing for it. I know of people who function well and others who don’t.


  2. Jill Siedenburg

    Oh a thousand thank you’d to u for sharing this ! I am starting a divorce because I am disabled and sick . For 6 years I have been dealing with this world of guilt for being not enough . Perfect timing for me ! God bless you and happy living to you !!


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Welcome, Jill.

      I’m so sorry it has come to this for you. If it were your fault, would you have chosen this life? OF COURSE NOT!

      Let yourself off the hook. Do the best you can – but don’t add guilt. YOu can’t afford to waste ANY energy on an undeserved guilt.

      Plus, take it from me, it doesn’t help. Be kind to yourself as well as the world.

      Listen to your lawyer, but listen with your heart. You will have to live with yourself after, not the lawyer. Do not give up what is rightfully yours, though, especially not from guilt (did I say to dump the guilt?).



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