“There is no greater disability in society, than the inability to see a person as more”
I recently received a lovely message from a lady who had come across an old post of mine that I had written about using a walking stick and it inspired me to write an up-to-date post on how I feel about using a walking aid. I never quite realised the impact that my post would have and at the time was just writing down how I felt about making my invisible illness somewhat visible to others. I remember being scared of judgement from complete strangers and fearing the possibility that a walking stick could become an integral part of my everyday life. I didn’t label myself as disabled as I never really thought that it was something I was. But I gradually came to terms with the fact that disabilities cover such a vast spectrum of different things and that needing a wheelchair is not the only determining factor when being classed as disabled.
I have been faced with judgement when travelling with my walking stick due to the way I look. I am young which to many automatically equals healthy and able-bodied. People have assumed that I am sitting in the disabled seating because I am pregnant. Others have just looked at me inquisitively, forgetting that it is rude to stare at others, disabled or not. I also starting using the ‘please offer me a seat’ badge that Transport for London offered but, sadly I am often ignored and have had no choice but, to stand. I do not like to draw attention and am not comfortable asking someone to give up their seat. There have been a handful of generous people who have thankfully not thought twice about offering me a seat and have done so without question.
Whether you are able to walk unaided, use a walking stick as extra or full support, use a wheelchair when needed or are confined to a wheelchair, you should not be faced with judgement. You are making a decision that is best for you. It doesn’t make you any less of a person or change who you are. Your decision to use a walking/mobility aid or not does define whether you are disabled or not. It is hard enough for people to accept that they need the extra help, knowing that there is little they can do to change their medical circumstances. I have started to accept this myself as fighting against my circumstances is a losing battle.
Sadly, the focus always tends to be on the negative connotations that come with being disabled. Obviously, being chronically ill for example is not something anyone wants to be but, the strength and determination it teaches you to have is a positive outcome from something negative. Change is something a lot of us often fear but, when your health is compromised, change is non-negotiable. You are forced to adapt to the situation and do whatever is best for you whether it be to accept extra help, household adaptations or walking aids. No one else is going through the exact same journey as you. You may have a disability but, all that means is that you will take a different path to others. We should strive to focus on what we can do rather than weighing ourselves down with what we can’t.
We are more than our disability and don’t let anyone make you believe otherwise.