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When I'm Judged for Using Disabled Parking With an Invisible Illness

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I have limited mobility as my arthritis and fibromyalgia have been causing lengthy flare-ups. I go through spells of walking aided with a crutch and had weekly physiotherapy and rehab appointments. The Disabled Parking badge I was awarded has made such a big difference to my life. It allows me to get out the house, to have some freedom and reduces how long I have to walk from the car to my destination.

I continue to make good progress with my walking; each day I am getting stronger and better at walking a bit further. I am guilty of trying to do too much and behind closed doors I suffer badly as a result. When I need my crutch using the blue badge seems to be fine, nobody questions my disability – the stick speaks for itself. However, take the crutch away and what do you see? A young woman with her 14-month-old son. At first glance you don’t see anything different. You may think “she doesn’t look disabled” or wonder “what is wrong with her?”

I have experienced people shaking their heads at me for using the badge and someone asking me to move my car so they could take the spot! More recently, a parking attendant stood in front of my car, didn’t utter a word but went and got his manager to check my badge. I was the only person to get a check because the person next to us had a walking aid. I felt attacked and judged. They watched my every move like I was faking my disability. It stripped the confidence from me and the freedom I once experienced is now fading away.

I vowed I wouldn’t use my disabled parking badge again because I never wanted to be judged like that. But why should I listen to small minded and ignorant people? The disabled parking badge has changed my life for the better. I shouldn’t isolate myself because that means the small-minded people are winning.

I have a disability; I need a space closer to where I am going. So what? It’s about living well with a chronic illness and the disabled parking badge helps me do so.

Getty image by Richard Johnson.

Originally published: August 6, 2019
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