Hidden Disabilities

By: A.C.

The link to the Huffington Post article on our Facebook Page about looking well, and having hidden disability is something I understand very well.

Last week I was in local supermarket, walking through the open space where double glazing salesmen lie in ambush ready for that unwary eye contact. I used to have pin – sharp eyesight, with a look that could freeze such salesmen at fifty feet. I think though, I must have a permanent quizzical look on my face now, as I squint at the world.

Thrusting his leaflets under my nose, and in a state of job-enforced enthusiasm, he grinned widely as he offered me great deals on his brand of double glazing. I said “No thanks” and started to walk on. Undeterred he took a couple of steps in front, and said “great money savers these deals, sir, think about a survey”.

Summoning up my best withering look – which used to be quite effective until I started to squint hazily at the world – I told him that legions of disabled people had little or no income, savings or ready cash available nowadays, because of the actions of the Dept. of Work and Pensions, ATOS’s tests, Austerity, the Financial Collapse, and in the pause for breath before I named other culprits like the readers of certain newspapers, he said “You look really healthy, you’re not disabled”.

Have you ever noticed that flat, almost otherworldly silence, following some mangled thoughts and ideas that have meandered from your brain, and exited via your mouth? This phenomenon is usually associated with an ancient tongue–loosening medicine called alcohol. That is when you wish that your mouth had a net to catch stray words and thoughts in the seconds following such a statement.

It is usually the flat silence blocking out all other sound, which makes the biggest impression in the immediate seconds following such an utterance. I remained expressionless, stony-faced and watched with hidden amusement, as the salesman began thinking on his feet, but he was clearly discomfited. The newly psychic salesman, sensing that he may have hit a sensitive nerve, stuttered that he was type 1 Diabetic. “Then you have a disability, albeit hidden” I said, and walked off.

Hidden disability and having a robust and strong looking physique, and complexion, have always had this effect on Doctors as well. Unfortunately, that instant diagnosis by doctors has been the bane of my life.

Double–Glazing salesmen are not people I would normally have a convivial chat with. Far less share a medical record with.

He did have some good offers though.

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3 Responses to Hidden Disabilities

  1. jimtorry says:

    Yeah I say either can I see your doctorate or wow your life must be so perfect that you feel the need to judge mine, works everytime

  2. Zenrhe (Red Zilla) says:

    I think I rate ‘but you look fine’ at the top of infurating things about an invisible illness. You would think that an actual part of the illness/disability would rank at the top, but no, its other humans.

    Especially on the most rough days where the insomnia has been pretty bad for days, and your body really doesn’t want to be doing much at all, let alone having made it up and out the door. But oh look, we are dressed nice, have done our hair and makeup, and look like we are fit to go on a jog and run up and down stairs.

    It’s at these times that for me anger -management is required for me. I know the poor person uttering the most infuriating words to my ears does not quite deserve a deluge of my frustrations as my eyes bulge and I want to go nuts at them. This is also where just being quiet and staring at them can be handy.

    But I find, out of all the things I do to aid my life and health, this ‘but you look fine’ is not something that goes away easily. It would be good to have some sort of list of responses. And also we all need to educate people on invisible illnesses, although a random in the supermarket may not be the best place to get stuck in.

    I like how you handled it. And glad you brought it up.

  3. AC says:

    Thank you both for your replies. How many times in a day are we asked by folk, who are just being polite – and obeying their cultural training – ” How are you today? This was asked of me the other day as I was about to sit down in a dentists chair. The dentist was East European, and simply being polite in the way he was taught ” proper” English. Following his swift examination of my mouth, I pointed out that nobody actually wants you to respond to the query ” How are you today”. It is simply a polite way of opening conversation and the response is usually ” fine”.

    Which is why most folk talk about the weather.

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