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You Don't Look Disabled, You're Not In A Wheelchair

‘Attacking people with disabilities is the lowest display of power I can think of’

I recently read and shared a post on Facebook about a woman from Australia, who was parked in a disabled space with a valid blue badge and had been left a note reading ‘Did you forget your wheelchair??’. I knew some people were stupid but I just didn’t realise how much. 

Justine, the woman who was left the horrible note, is only 41 years old but unfortunately suffers from M.S. As you know I suffer from M.E. which just like M.S. it is an invisible illness. It frustrates me how just because you seem fine on the outside people assume you can’t be disabled. Justine had gone shopping with her daughter with what she thought was a good day for her. I know how this can be, you’ll still be in pain, tired, etc but its the best your day will get, you’ll get all geared up to leave the house and actually go out that simple things like having a blue badge can help you so much. I use mine on good days to help save some energy that the little less walking I have to do to the shop or wherever I am. This can mean the difference between me spending the next day or week in bed. 

Sometimes I do use a wheelchair, those are the really bad days, I can end up not going out cause I don't want to be seen in the chair, especially in my local town centre. When I’m in the chair thought I’ve noticed the difference in which people look at you, especially when you leave your car in a disabled space. They look at you, well more stare at you, wondering why you cant walk, feeling sorry for you and looking like the ‘perfect’ disabled person. The next time you go out without the chair, you're stared at like you just burnt down a hospital. It’s disgusting. I feel like I have to hobble or limp at least to justify being there. 

I once went out to meet two friends for lunch once to a local cafe. It would have taken me all of 15 minutes to walk there but I had to drive because I was so ill. The disabled space was actually further away from the cafe but the only space left in the small car park, if I hadn't parked there I would have had to park further away anyway. I displayed my badge, noticed I only had two hours, looked around to check no one was around (thats how paranoid it makes me) and walked to the cafe. 

After under two hours I came out and my friend who hadn’t seen my badge was having a look at my terrible photo on it, cause lets face it, we all look like we have just committed a crime on official ID photos like that. We were stood by my car laughing at my photo when a local council worker was shouted over from his fag break with his colleague, ‘have you got a ticket?’ I replied telling him that my friend was just laughing at my picture on my disabled badge to which he replied ‘you don’t look disabled!’ so I explained how not everyone who is does look disabled. He went on to say ‘I would have thought you’d be in a wheelchair!’ I told him that you don’t have to be in a wheelchair to be disabled and that I sometimes do have to use a wheelchair. I got the most idiotic response ‘what? when you’ve had one too many?’ I told him how because of my disability I can’t have ‘one too many’ and then left. This guy works for the council. 

What irritates me even more is that you don’t have to be with the owner of the badge to use it. As long as you’re dropping off or picking up the owner of the blue badge then you can use it. Also, if I was a lot older and was in the same situation, no one would bat an eyelid, they’d think cause I look old I’m obviously going to be disabled. 

I’ve had people look at me wondering why I’m parking there and seen people walk past my car after I’ve gone past them looking to check I have a blue badge. The worst thing about this is most of these people would probably park in a disabled space without a blue badge cause they’re just ‘nipping in’ for something or to a cash point. I’ve confronted people before because there were no disabled spaces left to park in and they’ve come out with all the excuses mostly involving being in a rush to get to ill people in hospital, lets hope they never need a disabled space in the future. Its not just people without badges that stare and judge though, it can be other disabled people too. I had a woman in a wheelchair shaking her head at me once. You’d think she’d know better than anyone! 

That’s my rant over. I needed to let it out somewhere in more detail. Just think before you park in a disabled space or stare at someone who doesn't look disabled. Clearly someone thought they were enough to give them a badge. If they don’t have a badge, have a word. Don’t leave stupid messages on cars, thats just cowardly and you’re only doing it to purposely upset someone. 

See you soon, take care
Natasha Jade



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