This is a photo of me… photo-shopped to make me grey and invisible, as that is how I am feeling right at this moment. My illness is invisible, however I am not, and this seemingly gives people the right to ridicule me in public, it’s not fair and I want it to end. Not just for me but everyone who goes through embarrassment like I did today.
I will not use my walking stick just because it provokes your compassion, I will not do anything to the detriment of my own independence, just so you can see my illness and not take the piss out of me.
You wanna know what happened?
Today, no less than 3 hours ago, I was in the Ramsgate Waitrose store very close to my home (that I traveled to, 1 stop by bus), getting a few bits for dinner this week. I was having a particularly good day, and went without my walking stick, I knew I would be able to hold onto a trolley in the store, and this is always more helpful than the stick is anyway! I felt good to get out of the house and mingle in the community a little bit. I start work again soon, and I’m trying to build my tolerance/strength up.
I haven’t been able to carry a shopping basket for several years due to serious pain building up quickly in my arms. They are not an option for me so I chose a shallow trolley.
I went to the meat aisle and placed four items into the trolley and went to the checkout, there was a small queue. I felt ok, calm and relaxed, when the man in front turned, chuckling to himself and said “That’s a bit lazy isn’t it?”.
I looked at him, smiling, bemused…
He went on “Bit lazy isn’t it, all that trolley for those few things?!!”.
I just smiled and shrugged my shoulders. He didn’t say a word more as he turned and tended to the 3 items he had carried to the checkout.
Normally I would gob off. Do the… “Actually I have a disability, I can’t hold baskets, it hurts me, holding onto the trolley helps me walk”…. But I didn’t say this, I stood in silence.
Those few chuckled words had reduced me.
Made me feel inadequate. That man shat all over my good day.
See it was only a few words that normally I could laugh off, explain, educate the misinformed gentleman about my plight and that of thousands others like me.
But in that moment, I was broken, reduced to silence.
I came home and cried.
See my illness really is invisible whilst you can see me. You see me, Lis, the lady in her mid 30’s, who looks younger, wears eyeliner and modern clothing. She’s standing in the line, getting shopping for her boyfriend because hes been hard at work and taking care of her for months with little thanks and she wanted to do something nice for him on this sunny Monday afternoon. He came home to her anger and tears.
Please think next time you see a lazy person, like…
A teen boy in the disabled seat on the bus
A man who gets a taxi just 5 minutes walk down the road
A woman with 2 items in her trolley…
Maybe next time you see a ‘lazy’ person… keep your thoughts invisible too. Chronic illness, learning disabilities, mental illnesses are very visible when you live with them.
Love Lis x