As part of invisible awareness week I would like to raise awareness to wheelchair users with an invisible illness and point out some of the things we come across. I apologize if this comes across as a bit ranty.
One of the things that annoys me the most about having an invisible illness is strangers coming up to me and telling me that I don’t need my wheelchair because they saw me stand up or they saw me walk to my chair from the car. I have been called a fraud and told I’m faking it too many times to count just because I’m not paralysed.
SOME WHEELCHAIR USERS CAN WALK.
It’s not that difficult to get your head around. Some people use them because it’s dangerous for them to walk because they pass out or collapse, others use it because walking is painful and causes dislocations (me for example). There are many reasons why a person uses a chair but the biggest thing is, if you do not know this person then why they use a chair is none of your business.
Also if you see someone park in a disabled parking space and they display a blue badge but get out the car and look healthy and walk in DO NOT question them. If they are displaying a disabled parking badge then they are entitled to use that space. End of. You don’t know how painful it is for that person to walk. You don’t know what invisible illnesses they are suffering from. I was harassed by a man who didn’t think I needed my badge and shouldn’t be parked in that space and he waited for me to come out of the shop to tell me so. It was pretty intimidating and no one should have to go through that.
I wouldn’t go up to a random person and ask them personal questions so why does it become supposedly acceptable when that person has mobility equipment.
I constantly get asked
“Were you in an accident?”
“Why do you need a wheelchair”
by people I have never seen before and will never see again.
Another thing, young people get illnesses too. Young people may need to use a wheelchair. It is not something you suddenly are entitled to when you hit an old age.
Some old people get so offended when they see me in my chair like I haven’t earned the right to use one because I haven’t reached a certain age. I’m forever getting snide comments about how I’m too young to have a wheelchair. I didn’t choose to need one and I’m pretty sure with all my pain I have earned the right to use one.
And lastly pretty people can be disabled too. The amount of people I know including myself that have been told we are to pretty to need a wheelchair is ridiculous. What do the two things have to do with each other? It’s nice to know people think I’m pretty but I didn’t realise only unattractive people could be disabled.
So next time you see someone in a wheelchair and you want to make small talk, talk about the weather or something like you would with every other person not about what’s wrong with them.