"I’ve gotten used to the judgmental stares I get, but that doesn’t make it any easier"

“I have rheumatoid arthritis and was diagnosed at the age of 24. For me, the hardest part of my long term condition is that people can’t see it, so assume I am perfectly healthy.

That security guard who told me (he didn’t even ask, or check for a badge which I had) that I needed to move my car from the disabled parking space, couldn’t see how fatigued I was feeling and just assumed I had parked there out of laziness. And he definitely couldn’t see how his assumption made me feel even worse for the rest of the day. I had to justify myself in front of other people entering the building.

That coffee barista who told me the toilets were upstairs after I’d asked for the key for the accessible toilet downstairs, didn’t know that I was in too much pain to walk up that flight of stairs, and that’s why I was asking for the key. He just assumed I would be able to use the regular toilets because there was no visible sign of a disability, and completely ignored my request for a key.  I had to explain my situation in front of a queue of customers.

Sometimes I can use the stairs, sometimes I need a lift. Sometimes I can use a regular restroom but sometimes I need a bit more space and support to get back up. Sometimes I can manage to walk around the supermarket but not be able to walk across the car park on top of this.

I’ve gotten used to the judgmental stares I get, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with or make me feel less self conscious. I just wish people wouldn’t be so quick to jump to conclusions and assume that because you look fine, that you are fine.”

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