You may have noticed that I didn’t post last week. I was having writer’s block big time for my blog. Today I’m resurrecting an old post of mine from my original blog. I think it’s important to remind people that mental illness is an invisible disability.
I am permanently disabled. I am not on crutches or in a wheel chair. I am not blind nor am I deaf. I have no outward physical signs of a disability. Yet I have seizures, I’m bipolar, and I suffer from anxiety. These things prevent me from leading a normal life, though I try to live as normally as possible. I am a woman with invisible disabilities.
My friend has Degenerative Disc Disorder. Walking for her is painful yet she walks without any additional help. No cane, no walker, no wheelchair. She also has severe depression and anxiety. These things prevent her from leading a normal life, though she tries to live as normally as possible. She is a woman with invisible disabilities.
We are the silent ones. The ones that take the ridicule, the scornful comments, the sneers. We are expected to silently ignore the comments of “You’re not disabled.” Or “You’re just faking. There’s nothing wrong with you.” Except…we aren’t silent.
Too many people like us are silent because they’re ashamed of being disabled. They’re afraid of further ridicule if they talk about their disabilities. Yet just because we are not visibly disabled, that doesn’t mean our problems are any less severe than those with visible disabilities. Those with visible disabilities are just more noticeable.
We are not faking it. We are not trying to garner sympathy. We don’t want your sympathy. We want to be respected as human beings, even though we are not as able as you are. We want to be able to live our lives as best as we can without feeling like we’re being judged every time we step outside our doors because people can’t see what’s wrong with us.
My friend and I, indeed many of us with invisible disabilities, we don’t define ourselves by our disabilities. We define ourselves by our thoughts and actions. We just have to accommodate our disabilities in our daily lives so we can minimize their impact on us.
We are human beings. We aren’t asking for you to treat us as fragile creatures. We’re asking for you to accept we are less than perfect, make allowances for us when it’s obvious our disabilities are making our lives difficult, and to deal with us like we are real people and not pariahs from the society of the “normal”.
Even if someone is visibly disabled, I would hope that you would afford them the same respect. Accept they are less than perfect, make allowances for them when it’s obvious their disabilities are making their lives difficult, and deal with them like they are real people and not the scum of the earth. They are as human as the rest of us, and they know when they are being treated differently.