• Sophie Ward

Invisible


Okay, so Twitter was buzzing none stop on Saturday after the BBC highlighted the issue of disability and blue badges.

This is a very serious and pressing discussion and as you can imagine, it sparked A LOT of interest and retweets. The picture in question that the BBC highlighted was one of a Mother, who has a son who is suffering with a terminal illness. She had a note left on her car, basically saying she should not be using a disability bay as she is not disabled. She isn't disabled but of course her son is terminal ill and dying and he was with her.

People were quick to make judgements that SO many people have blue badges and that normal car park spaces are ALWAYS free but the disability bays are always full. Some people however understood the situation - nobody has any right to judge. You can't judge a book by its cover. I know full well I act like I am functioning, I put make-up (tinted moisturiser ) on to look alive and dress nicely to hide the pain and suffering I am really feeling. The brave face and smile DOES NOT mean there isn't any suffering going on.

This is the same across the board. Not all disabilities are visible and with chronic disease and illness we have GOOD and TERRIBLE days. You may be lucky and see us on a better day when we can do a little more but these people that judge need to think about it and look at themselves. They will use the same 'coping mechanisms' as we do, but you don't have people saying harsh things because you wore a darker lip stick to attract the eyes to your lips rather than your tired eyes. It is the same principle.

I think suffering with chronic illness and many of my own symptoms being invisible to the public eye, is an issue that truly does upset me and gets me angry. Everyone has a right to form their own opinion, over the years so many have judged me whether its (me) as a person or my health and it hurts like hell. You are forced to accept that people will always want to have their say but you have to highlight the kind words and comments and surround yourselves with supportive people not people who purposely want to attack you. Invisible illness is difficult and what people don't understand is that it will have taken A LOT for the Mother to get her son out into the world and to have people say such harsh things is only going to mean they will isolate themselves more. That silly note from a judgemental person could have led to that Mother and son never going back to that location. Isolating them and cause major inner upset. If it was the other way around do you think that person would have written that letter? If they were suffering, if they were terminally ill and dying? I DON'T THINK SO. They would have felt proud to be out in the world and would be truly upset at someone leaving such a harsh letter. We all deserve life. We are trying to make the best of it, with our limitations and barriers. People need to just be thankful of their own position and conditions. People who judge, should be thankful they are able to move around, drive, care for themselves, go out, party and so on. People with chronic illness are just so thankful to be OUTSIDE let alone anything else. Gratitude is so, SO important.

I am truly lucky enough to have been shortlisted for the Positive Role Model award, at the Diversity awards next month and that is why I feel that is incredibly important to discuss this topic.

I don't always use a wheelchair, but I cling on to whoever is with me. I do get out of bed even though my body is screaming at me not too. I do as much as I can to care for myself even though I have the extra support. It doesn't mean my pain is any less or non-existent. I have a strong mindset and chosen to live as best as I possibly can. If I didn't go out and sat at home in bed all day, then people would make judgements about that too.

I think we should be celebrating people who are chronically ill for their achievements of making it outside, getting out of bed, rather than speaking such harsh words.

We all suffer our own problems and that is why we can never judge - we don't know everyone's personal situation and we have no right to know, either. Please just think before speaking, put yourself in the shoes of the person you are about to judge and think how YOU would feel if it was YOU battling illness, being so young and knowing your body was failing you, watching your friends play and enjoy life whilst you cope with pain. It is not pleasant, nor is it fair. Fate works in ways we can't explain and life tests us.

Invisible illness is lonely, its isolating and its a hard term to accept and adapt around without society adding more upset and stress to the issue. It is important to highlight that illness affects everyone differently and we all have unique approaches to dealing with the circumstances we find ourselves in.

I hope in time society can change and becomes more open-minded and less judgemental. For now, all I ask of you is to think how you would feel and place yourselves in the shoes of the person you are about to judge, I think you will be surprised how your mindset will change.

Remember - love and kindness make the world go round !

S

xoxo

#lymedisease #invisibleillness

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