#IDPWD2021 International Day of People With Disability. I will feature your published/unpublished poetry/short prose/artworks about this issue. Please include a short third person bio.



Pittakinionophobia (Fear of labels)

Don’t label me… Look at me…
Use your eyes. What you see, this is me…
I have no airs and graces
but sometimes I can’t read faces

I have a thing called Aspergers
which sounds like bad fast food
But it means I can miss social cues
and come off seeming rude
So my presentation of facial expression
is limited by my mental condition…

And now I have said those two words
you can’t unhear them, you have labelled me…
You have categorised me…
Filed me under ‘Mental Condition’
Pigeon holed me without further information
labels marginalise and sideline
labels stigmatise dysfunction

labels cannot define me, I am a complex human being
labels are an artificial tag
for a complicated web of chemicals and interactions
labels are a convenient excuse
for your own fear of what is different
Don’t label me…

I am not a phobia or a mania
I am not a condition or a syndrome
I am a human being
with faults and quirks and hopes and dreams
I am not a label…
This is who I am…
and you… and you… and you…
You are not a label too…

Peter Roe – July 2018

Coming Out Of The Bubble

I have a mental health issue
I don’t like to say dis-abled
Because I feel mis-labelled
I have A S D and sometimes
It’s like a fricking superpower
Specifically I have P D A
Pathological Demand Avoidance
No… It’s not just a label…
No… It’s not just an excuse
I can find myself trapped
In a descending
spiral of indecision
Because having to make a choice
Any choice
Yes, no or maybe
Creates an anxiety bubble
That I can’t penetrate
Rationality and logic are hopeless
Because they are hiding
Over there in the corner quaking…
The simplest mole hills
can be the highest mountains
Prevarication is my watchword
Putting things off is my defence
It may seem crazy to you
and I know it doesn’t make sense
but I am at the mercy
of a web of neurones
and brain chemicals
that turn my thoughts
to plaited fog
This isolation
time spent with the black dog
nibbling on my toes
doesn’t really help
Going round in circles
Living in a tribe of one
With just my own company
Is not my idea of fun
It’s just the way I’m wired
but if you feel inspired
Ask me…
‘Is there anything you can do?’
I’m my kind of normal, not weird
I’m just on the spectrum
Like many other people too
Let’s all reach out and ask
“Is there anything I can do?”

-Peter Roe – December 2020

 A recollection:

I remember it well. Aged 17 and being told I’d not be able to have a ‘normal’ job, or life or anything that other people did. Why? Because at 13 I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I’d already been told by my consultant that anything I wanted was possible. Mainly, because I was stubborn, he said. Adding, that’s a good thing, by the way.

So, in a job centre aged 17, to be patted on the arm like you’d pat a pet dog, and told to give up any dreams or hopes now. Then, because you were kind enough to help, you might find me a little job in a quiet office counting parking tickets that was the limit.

I might not do anything exciting for work, but I chose it. I do the things I want to, when I  want to. I might have listened to you thinking my life at 17 was over.

You told me at 17 my life was effectively over. That I’d live a life alone, without children. I’d never have a job I enjoyed or go beyond the city I grew up in. I should be afraid.

Then and there I decided I would do what I wanted and I have.

I have hidden disabilities and unless I tell people which I’m fairly open about doing, you wouldn’t know. I travel as I want, I have the child I wanted. I have like anyone else had jobs I’ve loved and hated. I’ve fought my own corner. Lived and written my own stories.

Don’t do what that woman tried to do to me. Don’t try and destroy someone’s hope. Don’t assume anything of anyone. Just because the internet says it doesn’t mean it’s right.

Do ask yourself if you’re being biased, it’s not difficult to stop for a second. Do ask how you can understand what someone deals with. Do ask questions of everyone, because one condition can have many outcomes.

Just be a thoughtful, sensitive human. That’s all. Disabled doesn’t make you dead.


© AilsaCawley2021

Bios And Links

-Peter Roe

is Neurodivergent, diagnosed twenty seven years ago. He was retired from work due to physical disability ten years ago and reinvented himself as a performance poet. He has two published collections and is widely anthologised. A former Bard of Dorchester, he is a Health Champion for disability, ASD and mental health.

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