Invisible Illnesses: A Walk in My Shoes
Not Visible Doesn't Mean Nonexistent
I know what you’re thinking. Some of you say it. Some don’t say a thing, but I see the look on your face. I notice the stares. Even when you try to mind your own business, I still feel the judgement all around me. I can’t say I blame you, because if I was what you would consider “normal,” I would probably have a different outlook as well. I would like to share with you why you should think twice before judging a young, seemingly healthy person who uses services reserved for the disabled, because,
I’m 22 years old, and I have an invisible illness.
Hiding Behind a Smile
I choose to live in the present because when you suffer from chronic illness, you don't have a choice. It's day by day, one foot in front of the other. When there is a good day, you soak up that moment. Those 'good selfie' moments are captured because they're a gift.
A Walk In My Shoes
I wake up every day. Sometimes I feel okay. Sometimes I can barely walk on my own. Sometimes I manage to put on a happy face, but no day is ever a great day.
I often ask myself, "Why can't I just be normal?" I want to be able to run and play sports. I want to be able to walk around the grocery store without a motorized cart or a wheelchair. I want to be able to work, and I want to be able to go hang out with my friends, but that's not how my life is.
You see, if you saw someone in a cast rolling down the aisle, you probably wouldn't think twice. If an elderly person got out of their car parked in the handicap space, you probably wouldn't bat an eye. I however, get stared at. I get the judgement laid upon me because I don't "look" disabled.
Nobody can see what is going on in my body, but I can feel it. I know why I need to use a wheelchair. I know why I use handicap parking. I have an invisible illness. It is very real, and it is awful. However, there is no sympathy for me; just stares.
I can recall a time my family and I took a trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma to see the Rhema Christmas lights. It involves a great deal of walking, so I was in a transport chair. I am not paralyzed, and my chair would not go over a bump on the trail so I had to stand up for a moment. As I did, we could all hear the man behind us as he called me a "lazy kid."
I don't know what to say when people ask me "Where do you work?" or when I have to explain why I still live with my parents. I understand that for most people, those are completely normal questions. I'm not afraid to answer. I'm afraid of the judgement that I will receive when I tell them "I can't work." or that I can't go out because "I don't have any money."
Having an invisible illness is hard sometimes because people just don't realize why I am doing the things that I do. I wouldn't wish it upon anyone, but if they took a walk in my shoes, even for a day, they just might gain a new perspective.
I would like to challenge you. From this day forward, when you see somebody, anybody, no matter their age, gender, or appearance, try not to pass judgement. If you must say something, simply ask if they could use any help. Remember this article, and know that everybody has a story. Encourage others to educate themselves and do the same. I can tell you from my own personal experience that having an invisible illness is tough enough without having judgement passed upon you.
Through the Looking Glass
Value What You Have
Health is not valued till sickness comes.
What You Don’t See Everyday
In my view, the best of humanity is in our exercise of empathy and compassion. It's when we challenge ourselves to walk in the shoes of someone whose pain or plight might seem so different than yours that it's almost incomprehensible.
- Sarah McBride
No More Judgement
Casting Crowns Song Reference
- Just Be Held - YouTube
Provided to YouTube by Sony Music Entertainment Just Be Held · Casting Crowns Thrive ℗ 2013 Provident Label Group LLC, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment Com...
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.