Monday, June 17, 2013

Invisible Disability?

In my lifetime I have seen certain speech phrases come, and then go.  Two of those started in my young years as crippled, or invalid.  I especially hated the later phrase which I was called by well meaning adults.  I couldn't understand how they didn't understand how demoralizing that phrase was.  Let's see in me that meant NOT VALID, or worthwhile.

Then the world kept turning, time kept moving forward, and I was older.  Now the phrase had become handicapped.  Well at least this phrase began with the word, "Handi," albeit spelled differently than "Handy," which is the usual method of spelling this word.  A permutation of this word became "handi CAPABLE." Which I definitely preferred.

The next to come along was physically, or mentally challenged.  In my mind that describes each and every human being on the planet.  EVERYONE has challenges either mentally or physically.  I have never met one single human being that did not have challenges in their life!!

In our "Politically correct," world we struggle to not offend, to never say anything inappropriate.  That is good...UNTIL.  Until we become so fearful of saying the wrong thing that we say, NOTHING! 

Balance...does NOT just refer to being able to walk upright without falling or running in to things.  Balance is the golden mean, the standard, that we should all work tact, honesty, in describing people who have faced unusual challenges.

It's easy to see someone in a wheelchair and know immediately that they are disabled.  On the other hand what if you see a 50 something lady with red hair park her car in the handicapped spot.  She walks and talks as though nothing is amiss. 

I've had so many people respond with astonishment when they learn about my "invisible" disabilities.  You can't usually see pain, or heart problems, or breathing issues.  You certainly can't see clinical depression, or Anxiety issues.  Yet those challenges are very, VERY real!  (I'm blessed enough to have many of these issues...please note the sarcasm in my statement :^)

Be very careful about your rush to judgement concerning others and their "disabilities."  For example I watched an "Expose," documentary.  They showed several people who were receiving "Disability incomes," of one sort or another.

One man was disabled by a terrible back condition that left him in constant pain.  They showed him outside riding his son's bike and playing with his boy.  They then used this as proof of fraud.  To anyone that IS disabled they completely understand this behavior.  The man probably took medicine for his chronic pain.  That medicine allowed him a short span of time when his pain was bearable.  He used that time to get out of the house, and to play with his son. 

I know for a fact that when evening came that short burst of outdoor activity came with a very heavy price.  The man probably couldn't move much at that point.

It's so much easier to judge someone from the outside of their lives.  If we dig deeper and try to understand the situation may be completely different than we have assessed.

Of course, there ARE fraud cases.  One man was shown roofing a house, and walking jauntily down a street.  He was also getting disability monies.  In his case there was the possibility that he too was taking medicine for pain.  That medicine gave him enough functionality to roof a house (probably not!).

Yet Social Security Disability understands that it's rather difficult to exist on $600 - to $900 dollars a month in our country right now.  So they allow people to earn a small stipend monthly to help with expenses.  Most of the people that I know that are disabled are disabled because they CAN'T work...they CAN hardly get out of bed a great deal of the time!  So this possibility is IMPOSSIBLE for them.

I don't want people to look at me and think "Oh she's disabled...poor thing."  I don't ever want pity.  On the other hand I don't wish judgement either if I walk my dog, or dance once in awhile in my basement.
One night I was late for a dance recital that both of our daughters were dancing in.  (This was many years ago).  I was ever so grateful to find one handicapped spot.  I pulled in and plopped my handicapped placard on the dashboard.  I started to get out of the car, (a very laborious exit for me, after sitting for longer than 15 minutes my body feels as though it has been encased in concrete...stiff does not begin to explain the difficulty it takes to get my body moving again, (Thanks a lot Fibromyalgia!~) 

A man passing by started to say in a rather snotty, superior voice, "You shouldn't park there.  It's for the handicapped!"  I was startled by his words.  I couldn't even think what to say.  So I silently continued to laboriously get out of the car. 

Finally I stood upright and had my cane in my right hand.  The man turned bright red.  He said, "Oh, I'm, I mean well, I'm sorry, I didn't know."  Then he shut his mouth and scurried away.

There is a wonderful song that says, "Judge not that ye be not judged..."  It's also a scripture in the New Testament in the Bible.  I don't know about you but I need all the kindness I can get.  I don't wish to be judged by any other mortal.  I in return do not wish to judge anyone else.  So...come on people, let's just get along!! 

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