Thursday, December 3, 2020

International Day of People with Disabilities 2020


Yesterday was International Day of People with Disabilities, but today it’s just as important.

“You never know who has a disability that you can’t see.” This quote is the one I put on my blog 3 years ago, and it’s close to my heart. The idea of that never occurred to me until I was the one on the other end of it.

Back before I ever relied on my wheelchair because of Stiff Person Syndrome, I would take the bus, and I’d be so grateful to get a seat because it would be a struggle in many ways to be standing upright. Knowing I had a disability, if the bus was full I would take a “priority seat”, but I’d feel so ashamed doing it. It felt like I could feel the stares of people thinking about my rudeness for taking one of those seats from someone who might really need it. And I would think, “If only they knew...”

As someone who sometimes has an invisible disability, and sometimes has a visible disability, I’ve seen the obvious difference in the way I’m viewed and treated when I’m seen in my chair, over and over again. And I don’t blame people at all. No one’s a mind reader, and it’s called invisible illness for a reason. But that’s why awareness is so important. No one knows to even think about invisible disabilities if they don’t know they exist.

Next time you’re around people, take a second to look around keeping an open mind. Know that any of those people that you don’t know well could be living through pain you don’t know about. Any of those people could have a life-altering condition. You never know who is going home to do chemo treatment, or who has a life-sustaining medical device under their clothes.

Be kind, and be open to what your eyes can’t see.


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