When Suzanne Perryman came back to her car one day, she found the note above. “You are clearly not disabled — shame on you,” it read. Perryman understood where the woman was coming from, but wanted to inform people on the situation, so she penned a response. An excerpt:
…In your hurry to keep things neat and orderly, you didn’t see the whole picture. I guess you didn’t see the accessible permit hanging from my car mirror, giving me permission to park close to the entrance. You didn’t see the wheelchair lift permanently installed into the back of my SUV, and you didn’t see me unload my little girl’s pink manual wheelchair that we use for “quick” trips. Maybe from your view, you only saw my older daughter and me, and not Zoe’s little girl bubble gum pink wheelchair.
But forget all that, it could have only been my older daughter with me that day, parked in that same spot and — depending on her health at that moment — in your eyes, we would have appeared to be at fault, even though her doctor almost nags me, reminding me often to use the medically-authorized permit to conserve her energy when needed. But looking at her, you wouldn’t know she has the same progressive metabolic disorder as her younger sister. She doesn’t have a wheelchair, but she has the same rights — all invisible to YOU from the perspective of your world.
As somebody who has “invisible” medical conditions, I can empathize with this a lot. While I do walk as though I have just finished the world’s worst workout approximately half the day, twitch on occasion and walk with a cane probably once a week, I do not appear at first glance to I have any physical issues. I’ve been told I “look fine,” that I’m exaggerating, that there’s no way I could operate normally some of the time and absolutely cannot move myself out of bed on other days.
The people who respond that way, though, are people who don’t experience the steady throb in my hips, the chronic ache in my legs, the confusion of not being able to match my speech to my thoughts, the sharp pains in my chest, the sick feeling in my stomach that never, ever seems to go away. I don’t think I have the worst problems in the world and I am able to perform most of my daily tasks without issue, but it gets exhausting to feel like people don’t believe you when you say you need help just because the pain doesn’t leave marks.
So, next time you see a person who requires a little bit of extra help or who’s leaving a handicap parking spot or who’s sitting in a disabled spot on the subway, do not assume he or she isn’t in need of those things or that they’re just lazy. Their issues just might not be your image of disability — but that doesn’t mean they don’t need that parking pass, and it doesn’t mean you need to shame them.
[viaÂ Huffington Post]