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Hoping To Still Be Seen For Who I Am After Sharing A Nonvisible Disability

Joshua Steinberg headshot wearing a suit and tie

Joshua Steinberg

I am a person with disabilities. Mine are nonvisible, and because of that, it is not immediately obvious to others that I have disabilities, but they are there. However, even though I have disabilities I want the same things as other people. I want a good job, a house, a nice car, a vacation, and I want to fall in love and get married. It has always been difficult to determine when the right time is to disclose that you have a disability when you are talking to someone new.

I don’t like to mislead people, so I am always upfront about who I am. And yet, chemistry or not, too often it brings my date to a screeching halt. All is going well, and then I say that I have bipolar depression, and you can see how it throws them-and makes them uncomfortable. I’ve gotten to a point where I make it into a joke. When I am talking to someone new and I am ready to disclose about my disabilities, I’ll say something to the effect of “I want to let you know that I am a person with disabilities, one of them being Bipolar depression. It is mild, but it’s a part of me. Don’t worry though, this is when most people ghost, so don’t feel bad about doing it.” [ghosting is a term used when someone just stops replying to your attempted communication out of nowhere]

I’ve found that turning it into a joke shows a light playful side, because when people hear Bipolar depression, they automatically think I am going to lose my temper and throw a fit of rage. I am who I am though, and because of that I remain hopeful that someone will understand my straightforward approach and accept me – with my strengths and flaws – just like anyone else.

The truth is that stigma is a real challenge in Dating. Disabilities still to this day are stigmatized, and people automatically assume that I am not capable of doing the same activities or of having the same feelings as everyone else. I have to share with you that that is absolutely not true, and you shouldn’t pass on someone you see potential in just because they have a disability. If you don’t understand, ask them. Dating is a process of getting to know and understand each other. If you work through your own fear, you might open yourself to the potential for something great.

Meet the Author

Joshua Steinberg

Joshua Steinberg was the Program Associate for RespectAbility California and Jewish Leadership at RespectAbility.

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