Fiction and Disability

Maybe we can’t be okay
But maybe we’re tough and we’ll try anyway – Diana, Next to Normal

This came up in my iTunes today and it made me think about this show and art reflecting disability and medical conditions in general.  There isn’t that much out there, and it seems hard to find fictional stories focusing on medical conditions or disabilities that don’t veer into the sensationalistic.

When I was in middle school, I somehow hat an insatiable need to read about anything medical or something I could identify with.  In addition to reading some more literary books, I literally devoured all the Lurlene McDaniel books I could get my hands on in quick succession.  I don’t know if they made me feel better about my condition or just expressed things I didn’t yet have the vocabulary for, but I definitely needed them in some way.

I’ve found some excellent books in the last few years that are much higher quality, but fictional accounts of disability/medical conditions are still hard to find.  I think that’s why Next to Normal speaks to me so strongly, some of the lines are so salient for me even though the experiences portrayed are so different.  This scene, where Diana finally kind of comes to terms with the effect her life has had on both her and her family rings so true for me.  And really, we have no other choice but to go on and try again.

And if you haven’t heard of or seen Next to Normal, I strongly encourage anyone (teenagers or older, it’s definitely not for kids) to see it.  I see a lot of theatre, and it’s one of my favorite shows by far and one of the most powerful theatrical experiences I’ve had.  It closes on Broadway January 16, but it’s on tour now all over the US and in Toronto: