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Yes, I'm Fat and Disabled

“Hi! My name is Jess, I’m 22 years old. I’m fat and disabled.”

There’s a sentence you don’t see every day, and probably for good reason. Most people don’t feel the need to start a conversation by announcing these facts. However, sometimes, when people stare at me for parking in disabled spots or using mobility aids I feel that I need to explain and justify myself.

You see, I have chronic fatigue syndrome (also known as CFS or myalgic encephalomyelitis). Due to my CFS, I often find I don’t have the energy to cook, so takeout food is ordered most nights. Post-exertional malaise means working out is often not an option. I’m trying my best to get a handle on this, but it’s not easy. I’m sure many of my other chronic fatigue crusaders struggle with the same.

My weight gain has caused my anxiety to skyrocket, but a recent situation made me really think.

I was on a train home from a work meeting. I was too embarrassed to use my cane in public (rookie error) and instead struggled on without it. I found an empty carriage, but after finding the first few steps in difficult, I plonked myself in the disabled seats. A few stops down the line a couple enter the carriage, they stare at me angrily before sitting down in two of the many empty seats. Then starts the not-so-hushed conversation:

She doesn’t need that seat at all. How disgusting.”

I know, she’s just fat.”

There we have it ladies and gents. I couldn’t possibly need my disabled seat because I’m fat…

This is when it hit me, whether I used the seats, parking spaces, and aids or not, I was going to be judged. As upset as I was, I vowed to myself to do what was best for me, and everyone else would have to deal with it.

I wish this was as easy done as said, but we all know that it isn’t the case. I try my hardest and when people give me evil eyes for looking after my health, I try and tell myself that it says more about them than it does about me.

So please, make it easier on all of us. Next time you see an overweight person struggling with their health, stop. Please don’t stare. When someone shares a “Walmart fail” of a plus size person falling out of their mobility scooter, please don’t share it. Just because someone is overweight does not diminish the fact that they’re disabled.

Getty Image by Staras

This story originally appeared on Chronic Fatigue Crusaders.