I was getting gas last night. A lady parked in the handicap spot and went into the store. The people at the pump next to me were making comments about her not looking handicapped.
Invisible ailments are a common thing. But for some people, they don’t believe in it unless they see a person dealing with what they expect when they hear that ailment.
One of my friends has a three year old son who has quite a few severe allergies. She is a great mom, super diligent about making sure that his food doesn’t have cross-contamination. She raises awareness about allergies. She has mentioned having people in restaurants get frustrated with her for asking questions about menu items.
I think back to when I was a server and we would have guests who had a lot of allergy modifications we had to input into the system. It was a lot of extra steps, but we always did it. Better safe than sorry. But now, I get it. Do we have to see the child having an allergic reaction to believe that he is allergic to dairy and eggs? Just because he has allergies doesn’t mean his family shouldn’t be able to go out and enjoy a nice meal. They are proactive about it. Why can’t they go out?
Just because someone is not in a wheelchair does not mean they are not handicapped.
I suffer from severe depression and an anxiety disorder. Do I have to be self-harming myself or having a panic attack in front of you for you to believe me? I try to be proactive about it. I go to a therapist. I work on coping and trying to be positive. Some days I do better than others.
People who have auto-immune diseases may not “look” sick. People who have pain disorders may not “look” like they are hurting.
Yes, some people say they have an allergy when they really are trying a diet. Some people say they are depressed when they are sad or anxious when they are stressed. But they are not the majority.
If someone says they have an allergy, I will believe them.
If someone says they are sick, I will believe them.
If someone says they need help, I will believe them.
I am trying to be better about invisibility. I do not know what someone is going through. Telling someone who is upset to “just be happy” or “not be so negative” may seem like you are trying to help. But if they suffer from depression, it doesn’t exactly work that way. It can actually make them feel worse.
I know that it doesn’t make me feel better when I hear that. Whether the person knows I suffer from depression is irrelevant. If I know it hurts me, I don’t want to do it to others.
Like I said, I am working on it.
I want to start asking “How can I help?” more often instead of offering advice when I may not know the whole situation. But as someone who suffers from mental illnesses, I know that I cannot always answer that question myself.
I am working on being present with people. Finding ways to show that I want to help. Listening.
I am trying to be better to others and be better myself. Like I said, some days I do better than others.
Life is hard. Why should I be an obstacle to myself? Why should I cause obstacles for others? I am working on it.