“Disabled Alterhumanity” by Polymorph Chronicles
With so much of the content shared within the alterhuman community being centered around quadrobics and adventures into the deep woods, it can sometimes get a bit discouraging to those of us who are disabled. We can feel like our content isn’t a big enough contribution, or that we’re not as “in-tune” with nature or our animality as others. We can think to ourselves that to be a “true alterhuman” is to be able to experience the great outdoors and move our bodies in a way that mimics the creatures that make up our identities as best we can. But when you have a chronic illness, mental or physical, that way of life, that way of expression, is not attainable.
For a little bit of background, my physical pain started when I was around the age of 11, but it wasn’t until 2019 that a doctor finally took me seriously and I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Throughout my teenage years, I was repeatedly misdiagnosed and dismissed when blood tests, x-rays, physical examinations, etc. came up inconclusive, and because of this, I still do not fully trust my current diagnoses. But I do know that my entire body is in constant physical pain that restricts my mobility, is worsened by exercise and has forced me into a wheelchair when I leave the house for long periods of time. It can get so intense that walking just a couple of feet to the bathroom feels impossible because I feel like every bone is broken, ever muscle torn, every joint dislocated and every inch of my skin bruised. I have also suffered from mental illness since I was very young, ones that, for many years, have been a subject of debate as to which disorders I meet the criteria of. Because I am no longer in therapy, I can only go by what was told to me the last time I saw my therapists and that was that I have anxiety, PTSD, and a mood disorder; which is a placeholder because of a standing diagnoses for borderline personality disorder. These things influence my energy levels, emotional stability and capacity to function as productive member in society; among other things. But even if we are only focusing on the physical accessibility of the mainstream alterhuman community, considering that a lot of us struggle with mental illness, the situation still seems to be blurred for a good majority.
Now, when I first awakened and began being active in the Instagram therian community, my physical pain was not as extreme as it is now. It was definitely prevalent, but many things contributed to it becoming worse as I got older; including my weight and activity level. I used to be pretty involved in the Instagram community, I had quite a big following at one point. I would take photos of myself behaving animalistic, running on all fours, rolling around in the grass, crouching down to “stalk prey”, play with dog toys, all the things you would think of to be cringy if you had no idea what alterhumanity was or felt like and only just stumbled upon my account by accident. I would go for walks into the woods behind my house, go sit by the stream at the park, flip off of tree stumps onto the grass, be able to swim underwater with such speed and hold my breath for such a long time people would actually be impressed. I was able to play and run with my dogs in the yard, chase them down and push them around to mimic play-fighting. I even used to jump in the mud when our backyard flooded. But all that seems like such a lifetime ago. In reality, the last time I can remember doing any of this was in 2018. Then my pain got to the point where just playing fetch with my dog inside the house was tiring and painful after three throws. And I realized that being able to express my animal behaviors in those ways was no longer possible for me.
If my current diagnoses is correct, and if my genes continue to curse me, by the time I’m in my 30′s I may be completely wheelchair bound, unless maybe I can lose some weight and find a way to exercise at home without hurting myself. Even then, that may only slow the process of my deterioration. And it not only scares me, it upsets me. I miss being able to go into the woods, I miss being able to run around and bend over in more of a nonhuman way, I miss the feeling all the things I used to be able to do brought me. There’s a sense of loss, a grief, in your body failing you, especially when you are also struggling with the mental pain of species and gender dysphoria. I can live vicariously through the youth of this community, but deep down it reminds me of the things I used to do but can’t anymore. It’s sort of this kind of sadness that envelopes me and reminds me just how weak my body is, how human and flawed. Holding a howl takes my breath away, but sometimes that’s the only sound that can possibly convey my loneliness. Walking on all fours hurts my wrists and back, but sometimes my body feels too awkward to be in any other position. Being in the deep woods alone scares me because what if my limbs refuse to carry me back home, but the woods is one of the only places I find peace and solitude. What am I supposed to do when my body won’t allow me the things I need to feel whole and happy? That emotional aching in my chest, the one that longs for what is too far out of reach, is no stranger to me now.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a post with suggestions for disabled alterhuman on how to outwardly express their animality. They usually always contain things that apply only to able-bodied people and that leaves me to wonder if disabled people are ever thought about here, if we’re seen as not worthy enough to make content for, or if we are even considered less than to other members of the community. I want to have more conversations about disabled alterhumans and I want to see more content created for us. The inclusion of disabled narratives is incredibly lacking here and I would really like to see that change. Of course, expression is only one part of alterhumanity, not the whole of it. Doing quadrobics or being in nature doesn’t make someone more alterhuman than those who don’t. Alterhumanity is ultimately about internal experience, not necessarily physical animalistic expression. There’s nothing wrong with doing quadrobics, and there’s nothing wrong with not doing them. I acknowledge all of these things, and I acknowledge that as a community, the spaces we hold for our disabled members are few and far between.