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Hidden Disabilities: The Elephant that's Never in the Room


CW: This article mentions topics of mental illness and suicide which could be distressing to some readers.


It's a sunny day and John leaves his house to enjoy a leisure activity in the park. Sitting on a bench with a book in his hand and a thermos by his side, he relaxes under a tree's shade. As he turns his pages, he notices a girl in a wheelchair being pushed - by who John can only assume is her father - opposite him. It doesn't take long for John to sympathise with her. He can already see her past, present, and future. A life that he deems as a life of anguish. John categorises both himself - and a neighbour on his right - to be one of the 'lucky ones' who survived having a life without a disability. Those who'll never have to experience the hardships that come with it. However, what John doesn't realise is that the neighbour on his right also has a disability: autism. It's just not visible.


I'm going to do both of us a favour and stop my storytelling because I assume you're old enough to know where I'm going with this.



Disability month


“Not all battles are visible and neither are the victories.”

Brittany Burgunder


It's currently disability month and which is a wonderful time to showcase all types of disabilities to the public whilst also making sure those who are disabled can feel heard. In my post, I wanted to highlight hidden disabilities because I feel that in today's world, we end up forgetting those that aren't explicit. I remember when I discovered that they existed - I felt so stupid for not realising it earlier because it made so much sense. Now I want others to realise the same themselves, and hopefully, through my words, I can help reduce those who aren't aware.



Hidden Disabilities


Some disabilities don't require a wheelchair or a cane or any other obvious indicator to be seen as a disability. Invisible disabilities such as autism/Asperger syndrome, hearing loss, and restricted vision are the type that a person wouldn't/might not be aware of unless they're told. And though it may be hard to differentiate whether it's a mental illness or not, some people consider conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), dementia, and personality disorder to be disabilities as well. Despite not having a piece of physical equipment (that is publicly shown all the time), they all endure the same, if not, similar struggles as those that are transparent. Struggles like conflicts in the workplace/school, and isolation from peers. Even bullying, which of course invites terrible mental health and quite possibly suicide. Ignoring people's invisible disabilities is not only disrespectful but harmful considering that they may suffer from theirs. As if ignoring and silencing their words stops the disability (and potential hardships) from existing. Newsflash - it doesn't.



Conclusion

It's the twenty-first century - invisible disabilities should be respected and regarded on the same level as those that are physically more apparent. And by the end of this sentence, I wish to have changed the mindset of those who never considered it.

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