I park in a disabled space at my local supermarket, I get out to a wave of disgruntled and judgemental looks from other shopper’s in the car park, about to do their weekly shop. I’m half tempted to act all gangster and question why they are staring at me with such venom, but I remember why! It’s because I don’t look disabled enough to be in a space, am I right?
Hmm, very judgemental and ignorant if you ask me. However, it’s also down to a lack of knowledge.
As I have Cystic Fibrosis, it affects my body on the inside, not on the outside. But people take it upon themselves to question my reasons for parking in a disabled space when I need to. It’s not like I want to have a disability, but it’s with me and I can’t change that.
Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic condition which affects the lungs and digestive system, amongst other things. I’ve learnt to live with my illness, even though it is incredibly hard to keep myself well and fit.
From the age of 18, I made a promise to myself that I would never let CF define me as a person. I don’t want to be known as ‘the girl with CF’. I want to be remembered as the girl who always did her best, the girl who never let anything beat her, the girl who worked hard and the girl who did her best by everyone around her. I want to be defined by the things I have and will achieve, not the things I couldn’t achieve.
Having a chronic illness has taught me is that I’m a lot stronger than I think I am. People, especially loved ones, have told me this, but I’ve never believed them. I always thought people were just telling me the things I wanted to hear, not what I needed to hear.
I talk to a lot of people with chronic illnesses online through the powers of social media, mainly people who have CF as it’s a comfort to talk to people who know what you’re going through.
My aim is always to raise awareness of invisible disabilities as there is always one or two people out there who are too ignorant in their ways to realise that not all disabilities are visible, and more importantly, there is a person behind their illness.