I walk among you. I blend in easily and no one knows any different… except for me. I look like everyone else, 2 arms, 2 legs, 2 eyes. No outside deformities. I don’t walk with a limp, or need to use a cane, walker or wheelchair (at least not yet). I wear no braces or casts. I have no burns, scars or malformations that make me stand out. Like I said to look at me… I look like you or the person next to you. But what about on the inside?
Just because a person “looks” ok on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean the person is. To the average person it does, but to the person that suffers from “invisible illnesses” it is an entirely different story. I sometimes think maybe I should wear a sign that lets people know that I am not 100% but then most of the time I am the one that doesn’t want people to know that I am not 100% in the first damn place! It is a catch 22, I tell ya.
I have a handicap placard. I use it when I need to. I use it on those days when I know I can’t do those extra steps. It took me a long time to come to terms with first getting it, having it and then actually using it! It may sound strange, but I still have problems using it. Like I said, for the most part I look "OK", so when people see a 38 yr old get out of a SUV and she doesn’t get into a wheelchair or use a cane or walker, the looks come tenfold! It used to bother me a lot more than it does now; now I just flash them a really big smile. If they say anything, then I do tend to open my big mouth. I just can’t help myself sometimes.
Since I do walk among you and seem to "fit” in no one knows that inside I am exhausted. I am forcing myself to take the steps that I am taking, I am pushing myself to finish my task, pushing myself to make it back to my car before I collapse in front of anyone (God forbid). I try not to have to hold anything so that anyone can see how my hands tremble and shake. It seems as the time goes on they are getting worse. My tremors are growing increasingly worse and they are now taking over more and more of my body, not just my hands. It started out just my right hand, not that way anymore.
If I need to talk I plan my words carefully so that I can hopefully be able to have them all in my mind and not have a problem so I can’t find my words and be stuck wordless. Now that is complete humility. Everyone seems to make “jokes” about forgetting a word or “we all lose track of what we are saying”, when in reality I have a real issue with this. Not only can I not find my words, but sometimes even if you say the word I was looking for, for some reason I can’t get it out. For nothing in this damn world. . It is almost like I am stuttering but I am not. I used to be such a gabber too, not so much anymore.
Just because everyone looks “ok” does not mean there isn’t something more going on. Just because you don’t need a cane, walker, or wheelchair doesn’t mean you might not need assistance for something. As much as I hate to ask for help, sometimes if you just stop and take a look you might be able to see the signs yourself. Just a thought you might want to entertain.
I walk among you. I see you for who you are. But do you see me?