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Is Disability Simply A Label? Or Does It Exist

Jan 20, 2008
I am officially disabled and have been for several years now. I don't like the word disabled very much. Mine was labeled an "emotional disability" aka depression. Whatever they wanted to call it, I was not going to lay down and die. That was for sure.

I worked in many jobs and occupations in my adult life and never really was very focused until I reached my mid-forties. But by that time I was so burned out by the hard knocks of the jobs I had taken, I didn't have a clue if I would ever reach any of my dreams or goals. I was told I had depression. I was even treated for it. It didn't help. My last job was in 1999 in sales. That pink slip helped put me on disability. With that disability, came the label "disabled". I knew it would be an uphill battle and I was willing to fight it.

I started studying depression on the Internet because I was home a lot. It did not take me long to discover a disease called "TRD" or labeled by the psychiatric community, "treatment resistant depression". I was one of the few lucky ones who received the only treatment for it, a vagus nerve implant. You see, TRD is actually not a mental illness, in and of itself, but a faulty vagus nerve, of which I had, will mimic the signs of depression, lethargy, etc. After I received the treatment, my life took dramatic changes. One obstacle, a majori coronary just before Christmas in 2001 shook the ground from under me. But I recovered rapidly by changing my eating habits and exercising regularly.

Though I have played "catch-up" for the past near decade, working day and night on my projects and college, some people continue to lable me disabled, which to me, is a good thing. It reflects more on them than it does me. If I'm disabled, what on earth are they? I am happy to say, we live in enlightened times and most are not that way. But some are and I guess will always be so. I cannot change them, nor do I want to, if it gives them comfort and a feeling of superiority. I have found that the Internet has leveled the playing field. I say that a bit facetiously and with a bit of sarcasm, because, during my "depressed state", I was keenly aware of the discrimination targeted my way, though those who were being discriminating were not aware of my awareness. I guess they thought people with depression or any disability don't have any type of consciousness when actually we are, for the most part, super-sensitive to the environment around us.

My darkest days were when I left the corporate world never to return. I felt like a horse being put out to pasture. I felt it was truly over. I didn't have a clue at the time it was only the beginning, finally, probably for the first time, a real beginning, a real chance to live.

With extra time on my hands, I learned to "nearly master" the Internet. I started a cartoon project with no money, Londons Times Cartoons which in less than a decade became the most visited offbeat cartoon site on the Internet (and still is). It's rankings keep growing and by the end of this month we will have had 9 million visitors within the past two years. That may not sound like much but for a cartoon site it is. Most cartoons on the Internet last from 3-6 months and the others are gone within a year.

These past 16 months, I've launched two cartoon Superstores and six niche funny gift shops. Sales remain brisk. I have affiliates through my manufacturer 3drose, many of them on Amazon and they sell plenty as well. I create all sorts of products with my cartoons on them; greeting cards, t-shirts, hoodies, key chains, coffee mugs, beer steins, wall and desk clock, baseball caps, and, you name it, we make it. All this is due to research on the Internet and making phone calls. Oddly enough, a disabled person, and that person is me, can write a lucid, professional email, talk on the phone professionally, create a social network and blog professionally, and write articles, hopefully professionally. The old boy network, who was once so involved in keeping a stigma attached to depression and/or disability is out of the picture now. I have no excuses anymore not to succeed. I now have the choice to pick and choose with whom I deal, and I choose to deal with intelligent fair-minded people who want everyone to have a fair chance to succeed. They are usually more educated than me and that is okay. From them, I learn the most.

I feel al little like a major-leage work-at-home capitalist at times. I come up with a cartoon idea for a certain product, call my manufacturer, he makes it, puts it online, sells it on Ebay or Shop.com or Amazon, and everyone wins. What better business could someone want?

Disabled people, I was told, were not necessarily as inteligent as the norm. That's okay, I just finished three years at a top-notch accredited business college online, at age 52. I am 53 now and will complete my coursework next year and if all goes well, my masters. I will use the Internet once again. Why waste time with people who are more concerned with "labeling" me so as to put parameters on my limitations, than those who know me just as a person and helping me succeed. I am not saying a depressed or disabled person should hide behind his or her computer all day, I spend a great amount of time my day being and working with people, handing out business cards, going on talk shows, and doing as much as I can in the public. I teach free Internet workshops to the elderly, many of them shut-ins.

In December 2008, I have launched 4 new online niches shops that my cartoon products; Justfunnymousepads, Justfunnycoffeemugs, and Justfunnygreetingcards, not to mention two weeks ago when I created the first cartoon maternity shop mirthgirthbirth.com which also sells infant wear and tees for kids, and of course my anchor site which is completely free, Londons Times Cartoons londonstimes.us , now ten years old.

Labeling is a bad thing. Have you ever noticed that a person with a mental illness or physical disability is the only person labeled by his or her ailment. If a person has cancer, we don't say "He's cancerous", or if a person has diabetes, I've yet to hear, "There goes Mr. High Blood Sugar!". But if a person has depression, 100% of the time "He/she's depressed" or "has depression" or "mental illness". That usually puts an end to the conversation as the stigma remains and many don't want to know much more. That is unacceptable.

It might do them good to go to some of the famous people with depression websites such as http://www.geocities.com/coverbridge2k/artsci/famous_people_depression.html , or http://www.angelfire.com/mn2/illstandbyyou/famous.html . I am always surprised to see my name on each of the pages. There are hundreds of them; simply google "famous people with depression". My name generally appears below Abraham Lincoln and Elton John, two others labeled with this disability.
About the Author
Cartoonist Rick London has overcome many obstacles, and has some of the most visited humor-based websites on the Internet. His latest humor niche gift shop site is Just Funny Greeting Cards Disabled cartoonist Rick London opens yet another niche shop, cartoon greeting cards
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