Invisible Disabilities DO Exist
Once upon an average high school day, I was in the elevator on my way to class. At the elevators second stop, I noticed a teacher step in. As the elevator door closed, I realized that he was looking at me. I tried to be polite and said hello before turning to face the elevator door again. After a few awkward long seconds, the man looked up and down at my body, then turned to me and said “You don’t look like your legs are broken.”
At my school, only students with disabilities or an elevator pass, may ride the elevator. I have both. I was appalled and hurt by this teacher’s words, but I mustered up the strength to look at him and say, “I have a pass.” I also directed him to the pass hanging off the side of my backpack, to which his response was to yell out “What the hell do you need a pass for?” In the seconds that passed, I dashed out of the elevator, and that moment and experience of my life, officially ended.
What I learned was that this man simply didn’t understand that people with “invisible” disabilities exist. People such as myself, who suffer from chronic pain and live disabled, without outwardly appearing so. The next thing I realized was that there are most likely many more people out there just like the man I encountered in the elevator. People who don’t comprehend, let alone acknowledge the existence of people with “invisible disabilities”. But I promise you, we exist. What I ask of society, is to not judge me and my disability like a cover of a book. Not every disabled person moves in a wheelchair, or requires an assistive device. What we do require is society’s empathy.