What Not To Say To Someone With An Invisible Physical Disability

What Not To Say To Someone With An Invisible Physical Disability

The struggle is real.
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Those with invisible physical disabilities are widely thought of as lazy, moody, or incompetent, due to not having any visible sign of illness, as in a cane, walker, etc. However, we know that this is not the case. It is believed that at least 10% of the United States population has some sort of invisible disability, however this spectrum covers both neurological disabilities and physical disabilities. For the sake of this article, I will mainly focus on those of us who have invisible physical challenges, like myself.

In my own situation, I have a very rare invisible disability called Myotonia Congenita. There are two main types to this disease: Thompsons and Beckers. My symptoms include muscle tension and stiffness in most voluntary muscles, slower reflexes, rapid and abnormal muscle growth, and muscle aches. For example, when I stand up from sitting for varying periods of time, my muscles contract and don't relax immediately, which means I can't begin walking until my muscles have relaxed. This can cause me to do multiple things: lose my balance and fall back into my seat, face plant into the floor, or pause and stand in one spot until I feel like I can move my legs again. Because of this, I have a D Pass (disability parking pass) for school and also a regular disability window hanger for my car.

Because I look like a very healthy person who works out constantly (and I don't), I have been given angry looks when I park in a disabled spot. I have had to explain to people that, when they push me, I can't catch myself like an average person. I have had grown adults get angry with me because I have to walk slower. I've even had people grunting, groaning, and making comments behind me on stairs because I walk incredibly slow up them and I can't do anything about it. I know others with my condition carry around a cane despite not needing it, only because if there's no visible sign of ailment on our bodies and they have had enough encounters with angry people who don't understand our disease is invisible.

Here are a few things I really wish people would stop staying to those of us with invisible physical disabilities.

1. "But you don't look disabled."

I mean, that's the point of having an invisible disability. Unless I point it out to you, it's not obvious.

Instead maybe say, "Can you explain your disability more?" or "What sorts of symptoms/problems do you have?" Asking more questions leads to a better discussion.

2. "I don't even think of you having a disability."

This is part of the problem. Since our disabilities are not incredibly noticeable, it's easy to overlook them. Although this one does irk me, it's slightly more tolerable, since I do understand that you probably don't notice that I purposefully pause to look at my phone or fix my clothing when I stand up because, if I don't, I'll collapse. Or when you take off at a run, that I'm falling behind because my body won't let me spontaneously run at any given moment. Use this sentence with caution.

3. "How did that happen?"


Most invisible disabilities have been cause and effect. In my case, I was born with Myotonia Congenita ("congenital" means "from birth"), which was passed to me by my father who has one of the smallest cases of MC that I know of.

Instead of flat out asking what the cause and effect is, ask if there was anything that caused it by saying, "Was there something that happened to you to cause your disability?"

4. "Have you tried medication or surgery?"

I've heard this many times. Please do not say this to anyone because maybe we have tried medication and it hasn't helped or maybe we don't want to or maybe there is no medication to help us.

Instead say, "Are there any medications or surgeries that can help you?"

5. "But you're so young!"

Nope. Don't even start with this one.

6. (For those who can't relax their muscles) "Just relax."

I broke my leg as a kid and the only doctor on call was this horrible man who kept getting angry at me because I couldn't relax my leg enough for him when he was putting my cast on. No, I can't just relax. That's not how it works.

Instead ask, "Is there any way you can try to relax a little more?"

7. "You just wan't attention," or "You're just imagining things."

Just get out now.

8. "Are you always this lazy?"

For some of us, physical activity of any sort can wear us out and put us on the couch for a day or two, sometimes more. It's not laziness, it's our body's exhaustion. Sadly, though, there are a few who do use their disability as a way to just be lazy. However, I still would never say this to anyone because you don't know how they are feeling that day.

Instead ask, "Are you feeling OK today?" or "Is your body OK to do (blank) today?"

9. "Why do you need a handicap sticker?" or "You move fine, so you shouldn't have a handicap sticker. You're cheating." (This is said AFTER you have told them your disability.)

I'm pretty sure my doctor wouldn't have given me the write-up to have one if I didn't need it in some way.

All in all, if you don't understand the person's disability, just ask them to explain more about it.


Cover Image Credit: Google

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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The Truth About Narcan, Insulin, And Who Pays For What

"Stupid junkies, I have to pay for my Insulin but they get Narcan FOR FREE. Can you believe that?"

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Naloxone.

Let's talk about it. Naloxone, commonly referred to as Narcan or Evzio is a "medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose." According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Naloxone basically reverses the effects of an overdose.

As you see on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and every other social media platform in the world, "junkies" get indirectly bashed, undermined, and in a nutshell, told that they don't deserve a place on earth.

The most common argument used by "non-addicts" is "I have to pay for my Insulin for my diabetes, but they get Narcan for free? Wow, our government sucks and the system is a joke."

For those of you that don't know, diabetes is a disease in which the body's ability to produce or respond to the hormone, insulin, is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine.

There are two types of this disease: Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes that result from a variety of different factors. Diabetes can be acquired through genetics but can also be personally obtained through lifestyle, depending on the type. Aside from genetics and being born into a diabetic family, you may also be diagnosed with diabetes as a result of physical inactivity, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, and being overweight. In other words, if you let your body go, don't work out or do some type of physical activity, let your high blood pressure go untreated, and eat unhealthy foods; you have a chance of developing diabetes.

Next, let's talk about prices.

On average, Insulin costs $200 monthly. This depends on the brand, personal insurance, coupons, and other factors such as organizations that help people get cheaper insulin.

Narcan nasal spray costs $130 for a two-time use. You can buy it at CVS Pharmacy (and other pharmacies) in states such as Ohio, Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin. Some of these states may require a prescription.

Now that you know that Narcan/Evzio isn't free, it's time to talk about other charges that are brought upon addicts when they overdose. If an ambulance is called, they have to pay for it. If they are sent to the emergency room, they also have to pay for that.

The idea that "junkies" get Narcan for free is something society has made up to make drug users feel even more guilt than they already do from having an addiction alone.

Believe it or not, most of us are addicted to something that can be fatal or cause illness/injury. If you eat processed foods or sugar ridden foods every day, chances are you have an addiction to sugar. The withdrawal that someone has from quitting sugar is similar to the withdrawal that one goes through from quitting heroin. You get a splitting headache, you have cold sweats, you are moody, and it makes you sick. If you drink coffee all day on most days and you try to quit, it results in an awful headache for a few days. The addiction to cigarettes and the withdrawal that people go through for that speaks for itself; we all know a smoker or an ex-smoker.

Instead of following social norms, degrading drug users and putting ourselves on a pedestal because we don't use heroin or another "hard drug," we should advocate for the health and stand up for each other. If you see someone on the street that you know is a drug user, pull them aside and pray with them. Help them find a better life. Recommend church, rehab, or any other ideas that may be at your fingertips to mention.

The moral of the story is this: we all have an addiction, hypocrisy is at it's finest thanks to social media, and we are all human. Walk a mile in someone else's shoes before you judge them. It doesn't cost a dime to shed light on someone's life, especially when they are in need.

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