I hope every one is having a relatively pain free week so far. Staying positive in the face of ignorance is a topic that is very close to my heart. When you have an “invisible” condition/disease, people will always look at you differently when you use a handicap spot, wheel chair, a cane ect. It can be especially hard on those of us that are younger. People for some reason like to correlate a wheelchair or assistance device with either being old, or having some form of outward showing condition.
In the news recently, there have been stories where the general public have taken it upon themselves to shame people using an assistive device because they see “nothing wrong” with the person using it. This is very prevalent when it comes to handicap placards for parking, or when you need a wheel chair at the store.
“Being handicapped isn’t always a wheelchair or crutches. Some illnesses manifest themselves internally and destroy the body from within. I have one of those illnesses” -Julie McGovern
I have run into this problem more than I would care to say. In my situation, I have a hard time walking any distance with out being in severe pain, and I can’t move my neck from side to side, so its generally hard for me to shop anyhow. Usually, I can make it from the parking lot to the store, but once in side, I need a wheel chair or motorized buggy. Not that it’s anyone’s business what I need to get around, but people sure like to make it their business.
My mom and I were at Walmart last week and today, and both times I had the same thing happen. Once I had gotten into the store, I had to get a motorized cart. As soon as I started in to the store, people started staring. I don’t let that get to me, but it’s when people start making comments I get upset or frustrated. People think because you need a wheel chair, and they don’t think anything is wrong with you, they can say whatever they please.
I actually heard a lady say to her friend, “I can’t believe she is using a buggy. Some people are so lazy.” That lady didn’t know me or anything about my condition, but she felt she had the right to shame me. I almost burst into tears. This kind of situation made me realize I needed to say something about it, and how you can turn something ignorant into a positive experience.
What I want my readers and the general public to know is that shaming is not ok. I know I would much rather have someone ask me why I need it, than to just stare, or make hurtful comments. If you run into this situation, use it as a teaching experience. Let them know its not ok to stare or make comments, but you understand your different. You have XYZ, and they can learn more about it via XYZ website. I carry “Pass it on Cards” in my purse from Chiari Gear and pass them out to people who want to know more.
There will be some people grateful to be educated. There will be some people who just don’t care, but If you can change one persons attitude on invisible diseases, then I consider that a win.
Just remember, you are all special, individual, and just as important as anyone else. You should never feel ashamed or embarrassed for having to use an assistave device. Keep your head up. ( That’s easy for me since mine is fused in place ) Those of us with these conditions don’t often have a lot of time on this earth. You should make the best of it and not let other people effect how you are going to live your life.
Stay Positive dear readers!