Hidden Disabilities

Handicapped? Yeah, right…

I used to judge people who parked in handicapped spaces and then step out jauntily from their sporty car.  Most of these folks looked rich and entitled. They rarely looked disabled. Many of them, most likely, weren’t even handicapped. I mean, come on.  UCLA football players were caught illegally obtaining handicapped parking placards in 1999, so it’s not like this is a new thing.

But then I became disabled. Or, rather, I gained a disability, as technically I’m not disabled. And while I don’t need a handicapped parking placard, I have come to realize that my disability is invisible, which brought me to the thought that there are many disabilities that are invisible.

As I’m also working on making my world as much a judgment-free zone (because judging people without all the facts is a pet peeve of mine), I decided this is one thing I can discuss from personal knowledge. (Okay, not the handicapped parking placard per se, but the invisible disability part.)

Losing hearing in one ear is a disability.

Like I said, it’s not one that comes with a handicapped parking placard, and it’s absolutely nothing when compared with total deafness. But not being able to echo-locate can be dangerous, mainly because I still think I can. For instance, I can’t always hear cars coming on my right side when I cross the street, so I have to be extra-vigilant. I can’t tell where gunfire is coming from (and in many areas of America, that’s damned important), or which direction a siren is coming from. A crowded, noisy room gives me a headache and makes me talk much louder than I normally would. Plus I have to turn my good ear toward the person speaking, so I can hear them – which often means I can’t SEE them when they talk, which can lead to awkward social interactions – until I confess my disability to the other party. (Okay, that last isn’t dangerous; it just has the possibility of being totally awkward.)

Other “Invisible” Disabilities

Other disabilities that might not be immediately apparent and that could require that handicapped parking placard are described as follows, from the Invisible Disabilities Association:

The term invisible disabilities refers to symptoms such as debilitating pain, fatigue, dizziness, cognitive dysfunctions, brain injuries, learning differences and mental health disorders, as well as hearing and vision impairments.  These are not always obvious to the onlooker, but can sometimes or always limit daily activities, range from mild challenges to severe limitations and vary from person to person.”

Now, granted, someone with cognitive dysfunctions (for instance) probably won’t be driving a car; but the point is, there are disabilities out there that are not noticeable, and that may require a handicapped placard. Or, you know, some compassion.

So what the hell am I asking here?

Think before you judge. Pretty please.

Think before you speak your mind to the person popping out of her expensive car in a handicapped parking spot. This might be her first pain-free day in weeks. Think before you cuss out someone who doesn’t get out of your way in the grocery store, even though you’ve said a polite “excuse me”. This may be his first foray into the world after surgery (which can leave the brain muddled for months). Think before you make fun of someone who doesn’t look/act/talk the way you do. They have as much right to live a happy life as you do.

And if you see a woman about to step into the path of an oncoming car, make sure to shout at her and get her attention. She just might not have heard that car coming up on her deaf side. (My thanks to the anonymous gardener in Studio City, who made sure I didn’t lose an argument with a speeding SUV last week.)

Live a compassionate life, people. In doing so, you’ll receive compassion, which is something all of us deserve.

)O(

So, what’s one of your pet peeves? I’d love to know!

About Christine

Writer of paranormal, contemporary, and erotic romance. Find me on Amazon...
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62 Responses to Hidden Disabilities

  1. savvychef2013 says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful writing on important matters. When involved in leadership training, ‘defer judgment’ was often a repeated ‘segue’ into reflection and/or discussion. The lesson has had many and varied applications throughout my life. I find myself having a ‘recoil’ button when I hear myself saying ‘should’…and often pause to reflect on ‘who/what’ is happening. These are moments when I learn/sense/see/hear my insides…always learning.. and staying open to the learning…

    • Christine says:

      Agree, hon. I’m always learning. Always changing the way I view the world around me. It is my belief that we need to become more compassionate as a race, and not less compassionate.

  2. Joy says:

    Excellent post! I have a hereditary connective tissue disorder which means I grow defective collagen. (As do my dad, brother, and my 12 & 17 yr ok’d daughters) My ligaments are too stretchy which results in hypermobile, unstable joints. At age 49 I look perfectly healthy but easily dislocate or partially dislocate hips, knees, wrists, etc. I can’t tell you how many nasty comments I’ve received from using my handicap parking tag. When I have a good day I use regular parking but am glad to use handicap when I’m not doing so well. If I park close I can get into the store, lean on a cart for support and do what I need to do to care for my family without having my hip pop out of joint.

    • Christine says:

      Oh Joy, that so sucks! I’m sorry that your experience is a perfect example for the blog. Sending you and your family love and hugs.

    • Allison says:

      Hey Joy! You sound like a fellow EDSer! I actually made a lady cry once when she complained under her breath about my using my permit. The days I don’t need it, I don’t use it. The days I need it, I’m incredibly grateful for it.

      • Christine says:

        Welcome, Allison. I’m so glad you have a permit! Hugs hon and may you have many more good days than bad.

  3. Chronic pain. This is one of the disorders that people can not see but can truly alter a persons life in every way. Oh, and possibly get them a handicap card for their vehicle as well! LOL! It is also a life filled with the judgement of others, ‘advice’, and a lack of empathy and compassion by friends, family and mates. It is terrible to live this way and be punished for what you lack because it is not visible to the people around you. It’s lonely as well.

    • Christine says:

      Welcome, Michele. Absolutely, chronic pain is such an invisible disease. Sending all my best wishes to you.

    • Heather says:

      I know how you feel, Michelle. I have a few different types of chronic pain, the most distressing of which is my Chronic Pelvic Pain. I don’t have a handicap placard for myself (I have one in my Jeep, but it’s for my husband’s knee), but the misunderstanding of others that goes along with it can be such a burden sometimes. I don’t even talk about it with my mom anymore. I gave up trying because she just doesn’t seem to get it. She’s very much one of those people that says “You should exercise more” and other things like that, but as troublesome and unpredictable as my pain is, I doubt that I could even get a job, let alone hold one. Somedays, I don’t even leave the house because the pain will get that bad. My husband does his best to be helpful, but most of the time, it can be very lonely.

      • Christine says:

        Heather, thank you for commenting here, and feel free to keep in touch with me – the internet is a great way to bring people together. Hugs hon.

  4. Thank you, Christine. This is an excellent notion to start the week on…compassion. For as much of it as I need, I ought to give out more.

    Sorry to learn about your hearing loss! I have a Prius, which nobody hears coming, so now I pretty much drive as if everyone around me is hearing-impaired.

    • Christine says:

      Sam, I never realized that driving a Prius will up the need for defensive driving as well. Interesting!

      • I have a blind friend who’s mentioned the challenge of electric cars from his point of view, since he’s used to having the warning of hearing a car coming. His guide dog will see them coming, of course, but might not catch one starting up and be alerted that a car might be about to move.

  5. Emma says:

    I need to work on my judgmental tendencies. If someone doesn’t get out of my way in a grocery story like in your example, I tend to throw them my best daggers look if my “excuse me” seems to go ignored.

    • Christine says:

      Emma, I think we’ve become such a judgmental society that it’s hard to combat. I deal with my own judgmental nature every day and I’m trying hard to beat it into submission, lol.

  6. Maria Powers says:

    I have good days with being more compassionate and bad days with it. On the bad days when I think I should have done better, I try to have compassion toward myself. I am actually much nicer to other people when I am being nice to me instead of beating me up for not being whatever I think that I should be.

  7. Christine says:

    Great point, Maria. Compassion toward our own self is huge, and if we have that, it’s much easier to be compassionate toward others.

  8. beverlydiehl says:

    I don’t what it is about being behind the wheel of a car that makes people turn so vicious. Not excluding me, sometimes I get so angry… and then I take a deep breath, and give the man or woman who just cut me off credit for maybe being in a hurry to get to the ER where they just took a family member, or perhaps preoccupied with wondering how they’re going to pay the bills since she just got laid off.

    Mind you, I still reserve the right to feel testy at the drivers who block the intersection in the morning at Beverly Glen & Dickens. Great post.

    • Christine says:

      I agree. Being behind the wheel of a car is when I tend to be my most judgmental. I’m working on letting it all go, but it’s a daily test, lol. Hugs Bev!

  9. kg says:

    One other thing to keep in mind if you see someone who looks healthy parking in a handicap spot, maybe s/he is, but is picking up someone with limited mobility and/or other disability that necessitates a parking pass . The moral of the story is never rush to judge.

    But when I knew someone who laughed about using a handicap pass that wasn’t her’s (she had her grandmother’s pass and used it to park all day at a music festival for free) I had no problem telling her she was giving everyone who needed a pass but it didn’t look disabled a bad name.

    • Christine says:

      Absolutely. I had forgotten about those who pick up the disabled – that’s a terrific point to remember, thanks!

    • liaspyre31 says:

      Absolutely, kg. Prime example: yesterday I took my husband to work (he just had nasal surgery last week and was a bit too groggy from his pain meds to drive yesterday), and since we have a handicap placard in my vehicle for when he’s in it, I parked in the handicap spot to drop him off, and again in the evening when I picked him up.

      I didn’t have to worry about being judged for it, because he enters thru the backside of the building, so there aren’t many people out there at all, plus most of his coworkers know me, so they understand completely. I never abuse the placard privileges though.

      If he’s not in my vehicle with me, I don’t use it, because although I am disabled myself, my disability does not usually affect my mobility, and plus my name is not on the registration for the placard. True, people don’t get to see the registration because it’s stored out of the way, but for me, it’s not just a legal thing, it’s also an issue of morality. I’m just one of those people who has a strong sense of morality, which the world seems to be running out of nowadays.

  10. I agree with you. But just so you know, sometimes I resent a healthy looking individual parking in a disabled spot, meaning I a prematurely judging them, because I want truly disabled people to have those spots. I have seen disabled friends, searching for a disabled parking spot, not being able to find one, and it offends me. I have friends who have kept a permanent disability sticker for years after having a knee replacement. Sometimes, it’s just not fair. I want the spots for people like you.

    • Christine says:

      Faye, I agree that abuse is rampant in the system. All we can do is call out those people we know who are abusing it, and try our hardest not to judge those who don’t look disabled because we can never truly know.

  11. wayneconnell says:

    Christine,

    Thank you for your great words. Together, we can make a difference and learn to no Judge by Appearances.

    We are honored to share with our followers on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/InvisibleDisabilities

    Wayne Connell
    Founder & President
    Invisible Disabilities Association
    http://www.invisibledisabilities.org

    • Christine says:

      Wayne, it is my pleasure and privilege to share your association here. I had no idea I’d get the kind of response I did. Thank you for the work you do!

  12. Wood Smith says:

    Tensions around handicap parking continue to increase as the number of people with handicap parking permits increases. Most states today have a ratio of 10% to 15% issued permits to issued driver’s licenses. Meaning 10% to 15% of vehicles looking to park have a person with a handicap parking permit inside the vehicle (either driving or riding). While the number of handicap parking stalls remains around only 2% of all parking stalls. In short, demand for handicap parking far exceeds supply.

    Some will claim the demand has increased over the years solely due to an aging population. Truth be told, the increase demand is more due to fraud and a lax in permit eligibility requirements. Over the years the eligibility requirements have become broader and more inclusive. This is all well and good only if the supply of handicap parking stalls were also broadly increased to match demand. Since this did not happen, you have the increased tensions surrounding handicap parking.

    Many states are now introducing and approving new legislation to remove the free parking at meters component of handicap permits. This to help reduce the number of people fraudulently obtaining and using handicap permits. Many states are also tightening the eligibility requirements for handicap parking, Illinois being a good example. And states are moving to more closely matching Federal Regulations governing handicap parking (not to be confused with ADA regulations). I’m referring to The Code of Federal Regulations Title 23 – Part 1235 – Uniform System For Parking For Persons With Disabilities. Some states, Illinois again an example, have tighter eligibility requirements then the federal regulations. All states are suppose to closely mirror the federal regulations to comply with reciprocity agreements. This is what allows states to honor handicap permits/plates issued from other states within their own state and vice versa.

    The increase in demand and lack of supply are the reasons why people are judged (fairly or unfairly) when parking in handicap stalls. It’s not so much about judging if someone has a disability or not but judging if they need handicap parking. Over the years the definition of need has become blurred, especially when it comes to handicap parking. There are many types of disabilities, invisible and visible, that have little to no impact on mobility. So just having a disability itself does not warrant the need for a handicap parking permit/plate. Other disabilities, such as a quadriplegic or paraplegic are so obvious there is no questioning the need for handicap parking. It’s the gray area disabilities, invisible and visible, that dependent on their progression stage may or may not require the need for handicap parking. Someone could be in the early stages of ALS for example and not need handicap parking. But as ALS progresses and their ability to ambulate decreases they very much need handicap parking. And in later stages when they become wheelchair bound, it’s obvious they need handicap parking.

    It’s these gray area stages in a disability where people can fairly or unfairly be judged. Only the person with the disability can truly know if they need to park in handicap parking or merely want to park in handicap parking because it’s convenient. The federal regulation of cannot walk 200 feet without stopping is pretty restrictive. Most people that are at a stage where they truly cannot walk 200 feet will have visible signs. 200 feet is not very far, city blocks range from about 250 to 900 feet in length. One lap around the inside of an average Wal-mart is 1,320 feet. One lap around the inside of an average convenience store is about 175 feet. Bouncing in/out of a small coffee shop is around 50 feet. For something as small as a coffee shop one may not show any visible signs going in/out. But for most stores, the distance from where they park combined with the distance inside the store will be over 200 feet. And they would have visible signs they are struggling with the distance involved. Stopping to rest, breathing heavy, walking abnormally slowly, abnormal gait due to pain, etc. If there are no signs, like not needing to stop and rest, it’s reasonable to assume they probably could of parked another 5-6 stalls farther out (about 50 more feet), and not used a handicap parking stall.

    • Christine says:

      There are definitely not enough handicapped parking stalls. There is definitely a lot of fraud. And I reiterate that we cannot, CANNOT, always tell just by looking at someone that they are disabled. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, I do appreciate it.

      • Wood Smith says:

        I totally agree many if not most disabilities are invisible. And in many cases people try very hard to hide their disability. However, when it comes to the very visible function of walking, almost all mobility disabilities are visible once they have progressed to a point where one CANNOT walk 200 feet ever. In fact, most doctors would prescribe a mobility aid for someone who truly cannot walk 200 feet. And truth be told, most people who truly cannot walk 200 feet would welcome the safety and freedom a mobility aid provides.

        • Allison says:

          You’re wrong. And you’re obviously not a doctor. When you say “Almost all mobility disabilities”, what exactly are you referencing? And a mobility aid won’t do a damn thing if my autonomic system goes wonky and makes me faint within seconds. You’re generalizing and speaking for disabled people who can speak for themselves.

          • Christine says:

            I’m in agreement with you, Allison.

          • Jill says:

            Hi Allison, please do not take this as disrespectful. A mobility aid, such as a manual wheelchair, would very much be helpful to someone who may suddenly faint or pass out. This would prevent them from falling and possibly injuring themselves. They could easily break a bone, sprain a joint, or injure their head when falling. Being in a wheelchair would greatly reduce these risks.

    • kg says:

      The City of Portland is dealing with this in the downtown area. Until July 1st, a disabled permit allows you to park in any legal spot for as long as you want (like you park in a 15 minute spot all day) without having to pay the meter. Over time, entire blocks were suddenly full of cars with handicap passes. After July 1st, cars with the dark blue, basic placards have to pay meters but can stay up to three hours. Vehicles with light blue placards for wheelchairs are still exempt.

      It’s sad the city had to implement this and its unfortunate people abused the system because it ultimately hurts the people who need assistance.

      • Christine says:

        I agree, Kelly. It’s really too bad that not only do people abuse the system, but that it’s very hard to prove that abuse.

    • Allison says:

      1. There aren’t enough handicap spaces, yes. But the people judging generally aren’t other disabled people who need the spaces. The people judging are able-bodied. They don’t care how many spaces there are, because they don’t need them.
      2. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to actually obtain a permit? It took me nearly two years, a doctor filling out several forms, and two trips to the DMV. Sure, there’s fraud, because people are jerks. It doesn’t mean the VAST majority of people with permits don’t need them. Thanks for the judgment, though.
      3. “Most people that are at a stage where they truly cannot walk 200 feet will have visible signs.” Yeah, you’re wrong there. That’s why they’re called INVISIBLE. I don’t have any outward signs I’m going to faint until I actually do.
      4. Some people can’t handle outside temperatures. I can walk around a Wal-mart sometimes, if I lean on a cart, because it’s air conditioned. I can drive my car because it’s air conditioned. I cannot walk outside for more than a block on a hot or humid day, because I faint. So, you’re judging again.

      • Christine says:

        Allison, I’m assuming you’re rebutting Mr. Smith’s comments. I’m in agreement with you. It’s a shame that we live in such a judgmental society.

        • Allison says:

          Yes, I was. Sorry I forgot to address it to him directly. Thanks again for this post- it’s generated a lot of discussion on FB in the last few days!

      • Cindy says:

        #2 – If you don’t mind me asking, what state put you through all of that? In my state all we have to do is have our doctor fill out a form and send it into the DMV. If the form is signed and filled out appropriately the DMV sends the placard to us in the mail. We don’t ever need to go into the DMV.

        • Christine says:

          Cindy, this post has been up for a while, so you might not get a response. But thanks so much for coming by and leaving a comment!

  13. Christa says:

    Thank you for talking about this so candidly! Like some of the others who commented, I too have an invisible disability and have had my fair share of narrowed eyes, scrutiny and outspoken bystanders who think they are the handicap parking police, disabled check-out line monitors or gate keepers of ADA needed assistance like elevator or bathroom access. I was diagnosed with my condition- that turns my connective tissue into calcification and fuses the spine- when I was 23. Let’s face it, I was young and an athlete when I suddenly became so sick that my life was flipped upside down. While dealing with this new trauma I had people stopping me at the curb in front of my car telling me that I shouldn’t be parking there because I LOOK just fine. That was the cruel fate, I did look just fine, except maybe for the bags under my eyes and the defeat on my face. Fast forward to now, where I have managed a disease for almost 19 years. I still look normal. But I take wicked biologic shots weekly and infusions monthly and those wipe out my immune system and make me tired beyond belief. I can walk for a while. On good days I even finish 5k limping-runs because I want to do that for me but that doesn’t mean my disability vanished it just means I am one determined person who isn’t going to let life pass me by anymore. I might arrive at a place looking normal but I have orthotics in my sneakers and a TENS unit zapping my nerves and a good amount of medicine on board to make it possible. But, it is inevitable that at the end of the day, my body will be screaming and my brain will be tired.
    I really don’t need to deal with someone else’s misplaced judgement. I once went to the bathroom at a store and I used the handicapped stall. Sometimes I need help to stand up and those rails fit the bill. But, an elderly woman was standing there at the door waiting for the stall and she felt like it was her purpose in life to tell me that those stalls were there for disabled people. After I gave her a run down of my diagnosis, I then explained the ADA laws of accessibility giving her a bit of knowledge she obviously had no idea about. At the end she apologized to me but I only hope that she left that bathroom understanding where she’d gone wrong in her superiority complex and never did that to another person again. Another thing I have learned through the decades of being sick with an invisible illness is that I don’t have to explain myself to anyone. So, now, when someone feels the need to approach me and ask me why I think I am entitled to parking my SUV in a disabled parking space, I just put on my sarcasm hat and say I have a very rare condition called Parklexia, which means I just can’t park my monstrous car in a regular space. Then, as they stand there gobsmacked I smile and walk away. Maybe that’s a bit over the top, but I am not a victim of my disease, I am a champion and I don’t need negativity to taint the status quo of grocery shopping or enjoying a walk in the park or just living. I appreciate your post for the honesty you have shared and the advice of not giving in to a judgmental attitude. We need more voices like yours as advocates for those of us with invisible illnesses. And, maybe we need glittery placards or something that tells those nosy on-lookers they can just go about their own business.

    • Christine says:

      Glittery placards! I’m sorry – just looking on the bright side. You are amazing. Everyone with a hidden disability is amazing. My mother had multiple sclerosis, so I totally understand that invisible disability thing from the other side as well. Sending you lots of love and hugs and strength, Christa – you’ve got grit and stubbornness in spades, just like my mom.

    • Wood Smith says:

      Someone that can walk for a while and on good days finish 5k runs is a perfect example of a gray area stage for qualifying for a disabled placard. Especially when compared to someone who cannot walk 200 feet.

      If someone needs handicap parking, what is the definition of need? Is it a strict definition, meaning one must park in a handicap stall or not park at all? Or is it a quality of life definition, meaning parking in a handicap stall increases quality of life in some way?

      If it is the more lax quality of life definition then there needs to be many more handicap parking stalls. Keeping in mind there is a point to where you can have too many handicap parking stalls. If a handicap parking stall is over 200 feet from the entrance and the eligibility for one is cannot walk 200 feet, well you get the point.

      When it comes to handicap parking, people are not judging what illness/disease/disability you may have. In fact, that information isn’t even important. What is important is how and to what degree the very visible function of walking is limited.

      • I disagree, Mr. Smith. What’s important is to not judge. Period. If they have a handicap placard, give them the benefit of the doubt that they need one. Otherwise, frankly, it’s nobody else’s business.

        • Wood Smith says:

          What is important is to have a viable working disabled parking system. To solve the current issues will require both tightening the existing eligibility criteria and increasing the ADA minimum required spaces. Demand will only increase as the population ages. And the only way to tighten criteria is to judge, there is no other way. The current eligibility criteria themselves required judging. You have to judge who is eligible and who is not. That judgment is required to write the rules and forms that Doctors must follow.

      • Allison says:

        “When it comes to handicap parking, people are not judging what illness/disease/disability you may have. In fact, that information isn’t even important. What is important is how and to what degree the very visible function of walking is limited.” Anyone who is not a medical professional who has treated that patient has absolutely no say and is not able to judge how and to what degree walking is limited. Period.

        • Wood Smith says:

          Actually, everyone has a say. Disabled parking is a public social issue. It has an impact on everyone that parks. It is not just between you and your doctor. All the rules and regulations are created, debated, and passed by our politically elected officials.

          There are numerous problems with the existing disabled parking system. Changes have already started and will continue to.

          • Christine says:

            It may be a public social issue, Mr. Smith, but I would appreciate it if you would take your discourse elsewhere. Upsetting my commenters, many of whom have invisible disabilities, does you no credit. This is my blog, not your political stump, so I have decided to block you from further comments. Best wishes and have a nice day.

            • liaspyre31 says:

              Thank you for that, Christine. I’ve only been on this blog since last night, but he was already starting to get on my nerves, and I was ready to give him a piece of my mind. Kinda reminds me of my mom and youngest sister… very black-and-white, and very judgmental.

              • Christine says:

                Not a problem, Lia. I’m vetting all comments right now, as I’m sure you understand.

      • Franklin says:

        I would have to agree with Mr. Smith on this one. I do not see how someone who can walk a 5k would qualify for a disabled parking permit.

  14. Rrroma says:

    If I’m not mistaken the ADA parking spaces Mr SMith is referring to are required for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA is Civil Rights legislation that prevents discrimination against individuals with disabilities. This really isn’t up for discussion.

    I work with individuals with disabilities every day and I’d like to put a plug in for increased tolerance for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. What if we quit obsessing about the few people who abuse the system and put that energy toward trying to understand the many barriers and challenges that people with invisible disabilities face every day. Great article. Here is another blog worth reading http://helponfourlegs.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/an-open-letter-to-the-vigilantes/

    • Christine says:

      I agree. We do need to stop obsessing with the people who abuse the system. If we, as a people, just stopped judging each other, we’d be better off in most situations. Thank you so much for commenting.

    • Franklin says:

      The parking spaces themselves are part of ADA. But the eligibility criteria of who can legally use those spaces are not part of ADA. The eligibility criteria is set at an individual state level and can vary significantly. So the discrimination protections provided by ADA to not apply.

  15. Tasha Turner says:

    Great post Christine. I spent over 40 years of my life deaf in one ear or the other on and off (ear infections & doctors who can’t see). A couple years ago I had surgery and for the first time I could hear out of both ears – I could tell what direction sound was coming from. It was a startling experience. Write to me if you need any advice on being half-deaf.

    Judging others seems to be a favorite pastime. My husband and I read a book “The Other Side of the Story) – it’s Jewish. It is about how you can’t know what your seeing because there may be factors your not aware of and how to change your thinking so you don’t judge others. After reading it anytime one of us would say something judgmental the other would start coming up with alternatives to put a “reasonable reason” behind a situation. It became a game – who could come up with the craziest and the most reasonable explanation for whatever either of us had judged. By including the craziest it helped our minds open to possibilities as sometimes we’d be so outraged we couldn’t get out of judgmental mindset.

    As to invisible illnesses. My mom broke her foot – well shattered might be a better word. Later surgery was done again, breaking it, to do something I never fully understood. Most days she is ok getting around. But some days she is in a lot of pain and is using a walking stick. However she “doesn’t look disabled” so on bad days when we’ve used handicap parking I’ve seen us get looks. I also have an invisible illness – chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism that we can’t get under control, and some brain damage from being hit by a semi in 2012. People who know me but haven’t seen me in a while will say “you look great you must be better”. Umm no I’m mostly bedridden – how I look or sound has nothing to do with how I feel. On good days I’m carrying a small cement ranch house around. On bad days I’m carrying around a cement skyscraper. On good days my brain is mildly fuzzy and on bad days I have a hard time completing thoughts as words keep escaping before I can get them out. But I look and sound (tone) like the picture of a very healthy 47-year-old.

    So no you can’t tell how disabled someone is by looking at them. Nor do you know what else might be going on in their life. Someone overacting to something might have just gotten bad/devastating news. Or it might be there first break in ages as primary caregiver to someone terminal. Your innocent comment might be the straw that breaks the camels back. Sometimes sharing your joy accidentally hurts someone – you just got a big promotion & they just got laid off and have no safety net.

    Again great post and some great comments.

    • Thanks for commenting, Tasha. We’ve been friends online for a long time now (or at least it feels that way, lol!) and I never knew what you were going through. Sending you my love and hugs, and many more good days than bad.

  16. Tasha Turner says:

    I think it’s been ~2-3 years we’ve been friends 😀 Thanks

    I don’t talk a lot about this stuff. I am starting to talk more about it – mostly on others blogs and on feminist places. Stuff happens. Everyone has some good and some bad. If I think about the bad too much I’d get depressed and depress everyone around me so I focus on the positive or the interesting. It keeps me sane.

    • Focusing on the positive is the only way I get through the day. Our thinking informs our spirit, I believe, and when we focus on what is going right in our lives, there is little opportunity for things to go wrong.

      You’re right, stuff happens. None of us are immune to stuff, unfortunately. It is our reaction to stuff that we control, right?

      Cheers hon!

  17. Amy says:

    I had posted a comment similar to this a couple of weeks back. I have Crohn’s disease, I.C. and Lupus, and R.A. as a result of the 2 autoimmun . Diseases. I do have a pass myself. More than once, when I gotout with no cane or wheel, I have more than once got flack or heard hurtful ugly comments. I would rather you ask me and I will tell you why if it is really that big of a deal to you. Not that I should have to, but it might make someone think before they speak or judge next time. I get so frustrated with people. And the judging and assuming. I am constantly hearing I would love to stay at home all day and not have to work like you. Really?Would you also like all the pain and suffering that goes with that? Would you like to be too sick to drive and stuck at home unabpe ? Or to be stuck in the bathroom all the tme? Or do you not realize that sick and weak, everything I do or try to do IS WORK! I cant enjoy food. I have to always know where the bathroom is at all times no matter where I go because I will def. Be using it shortl type. Sorry about the typos new phone. I so appriciate this article. I wish I could post this to the world somehow. Thank you for re thinking and changing how you judge. To a point that is just human. However I also wish everyone were like you and re thought your actions or thinking. Best wishes and much love to you and all of your followers.

    • Christine says:

      Dear Amy,

      My heart goes out to you. I have been generally blessed with good health, but when I have been down for a long period of time it is excruciating. May your burdens grow lighter, my dear. Sending love and hugs.

  18. Sally says:

    The purpose of handicap parking is to provide access to goods and services to those who otherwise could not access them. They are not meant to be used for convenience, ease, or time saving.

    Simply having any disability, visible or not, does not automatically qualify one for a handicap permit. Your ability to walk must be severely limited. So much so that you cannot walk 200 feet. 200 feet is not far, the average speed of a normal human gait is about 3 miles per hour or 264 feet per minute. if you have a normal gait with no visible limitations you can walk 200 feet in 45 seconds. So if you can walk for 45 seconds with a normal gait, please do not park in handicap parking.

    Too many people today with placards do not meet this severely limited qualification. They may very well have limited walking abilities, but are not severely limited. This is one of the main reason the number of issued handicap parking permits has skyrocketed. Add on top of that the fraudulent use of placards (friends and family using placards being #1) and those who blatantly park in handicap parking without a placard. No wonder its very difficult these days for those who truly cannot walk 200 feet to find open handicap parking spaces. And even harder for those requiring van accessible spaces.

    If you have the means, even if it takes extra time and effort, please park in non-handicap spaces. Leaving the handicap spaces open to those who otherwise, even with extra time and effort, can not access goods and services without parking in them.

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