Some of my disability / chronic illness friends are currently tweeting* about the #criptax.
Basically, the idea behind #criptax is that disabled people pay, monetarily, a much higher cost than non-disabled folks, often in ways overlooked by society.
To throw my own hat in the ring:
- Salary. I’m currently on an 80% contract, because that’s the amount of functionality I can guarantee, especially once you subtract time for doctors appointments and therapy. So that’s 80% of another postdoc’s money, right off the bat.
- Therapy. I spend twice as much on therapy as I do on food. Between what it costs and the time/energy I have to take out of my day, it’s a full day’s wages, each and every week. Most days, I understand that it’s important for me to take care of my mental health. There were times during my PhD, though, when I was flat broke, that I was going to therapy only because both my best friend and my partner informed me that they wouldn’t talk to me unless I swore that I was regularly seeing a professional, and I resented the hell out of this fact.
- Food. Most days, I don’t have the energy to cook, which means I either eat very unhealthily or very expensively.
- Housing. Between problems with balance and problems with vision, I can’t cycle, and I certainly shouldn’t be driving. This limits where I can live — and, surprise, areas within walking distance or easy public transport of major universities are not cheap. Thanks to my disability, I’m also hardly the ideal roommate — I’m hypersensitive to noise and to smells, I have a really odd sleep schedule, and I get pretty control-freak-y when I’m stressed. I also throw up a lot. This year I’m living alone and it’s amazing — I never again want to live with strangers — but it’s also very expensive.
- Transport. Taking the bus or a taxi when healthy!me could walk or cycle. Paying more money so that I can fly or take trains at times of day that work for my medications. It adds up.
And I live in a country with socialized medicine! All of my visits to people with medical degrees are completely free, I pay a flat annual rate for prescriptions, and I don’t take that many over-the-counter medications. I also don’t have to worry about battling insurance companies, and I’m lucky enough to have a boss who’s flexible enough to accommodate my disability without me having to deal with any of this officially — the administrative time lost by most disabled people is huge.
Anyway, the point of all of this is: having a chronic illness is expensive. We pay with our time, our money, and our energy, just to exist.
* Should I get on Twitter? On the one hand, really great disability-in-academia conversations going on there. On the other hand, I already run three Twitter accounts (two professional organizations that I represent, plus my own name, which let’s be honest is mostly politics these days), and that already seems like Too Much Twitter.