Being able-bodied and minded is something I think most of us take for granted until it impacts us in some way. I’ll admit it wasn’t something I thought much about myself until my accident. There’s a grey area though when your life changes in a physical or mental way that – at what point are you disabled? Who decides?
I (wrongly) thought that you had to be recieving some kind of disability assistance to be classed as disabled, however Citizens Advice states that:
“The definition is set out in section 6 of the Equality Act 2010. It says you’re disabled if:
- you have a physical or mental impairment
- that impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities
I have a long term condition that impacts most of my life. At my worst I struggle to move, to walk, have bad fatigue and am in so much pain I can’t concentrate on anything else. I’m not looking for sympathy that’s just the way it is sometimes. It meant I had to change a lot of things and reconsider how I was going to live the life I wanted to live with certain limitations.
Disabled is such a loaded word. We’ve been shown certain images of what disabled looks like – even if, slowly, we are becoming more educated about invisible illnesses but we’re not quite there yet. People still eye me when I sit in a seat for those who need it if I don’t have my walking stick. There have been times that I’ve taken my stick when I’m feeling ok just so I don’t get dirty look.
To me, I am disabled and I refuse to be ashamed of that. I still feel strange saying that out loud – I worry about not seeming ‘sick’ enough. I worry that I won’t be taken seriously but I’m working on it. Talking about invisible illness is a great start to making sure more people are heard and understood.
Changing the narrative is something we can all do together. Instead of seeing disabled people as those who are to be pitied or always seen as ‘brave’ for simply doing things anyone else would do. Does it often take more effort? Yes. Is it annoying? Definitely.
I’d love to hear your stories below!