“I received my first handicap car permit at the age of 27.”—Me

I periodically express this not to elicit sympathy from others. My intention is to remind myself that:

  a.) I need to give myself grace

b.) To remember that not many will truly understand the burden that I’ve carried.

As a counselor on a college campus, you either arrive to work one hour prior to your day or you are left playing musical chairs with the students for a parking spot. On a day with a nice breeze and my body is well rested, parking a little ways away is a nice walk. However, parking from a distance and trekking up 3 flights of stairs in 90 degree weather has been the fragile tipping point to a handful of my hospitalizations. Needless to say the handicap permit lessens the stress on my body—and so does the portable fan I bought for my office.

I know I get stares. I am quite aware. To the rest of the population, I am a lazy millennial. I receive biweekly infusions on my lunch hour to manage my condition and I typically return to work with bandages & bruises. So, to my coworker, who witnesses, this is a small perk I am entitled to. The permit comes in handy on those days for sure as my body needs rest following treatment. I promise you, I rather NOT need it.

Diseases and disorders do not discriminate—regardless of race, gender, or AGE.

I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis (MG)—a rare, life-threatening, neuromuscular autoimmune disease at the age of 23.

This disorder is considered an INVISIBLE Disability/Disorder.

In·vis·i·ble Dis·abil·i·ty noun:

A physical, mental, cognitive, or developmental condition that impairs, interferes with, or limits a person’s ability to engage in certain tasks or actions or participate in typical daily activities and interactions. This impairment is incapable by nature of being seen.

What many don’t know is that the invisible diagnosis is EQUALLY as painful.

This post is truly a shout-out to people who have a mental health condition and for people who have a physical condition that affects their mental health. The fact is, the mental and physical health are intertwined and share the SAME level of importance. Anyone with an invisible disease—whether that being physical or mental… the battle can be an inner war against yourself.

And this leads me to my third reason for re-acknowledging that I own a disability parking pass—

c.) To remember that I have Limits

There are days that I am so thankful to have a condition that is beneath the surface. When my condition is dormant, I can go about my day and live in a surreal world where the life of my husband & my own won’t be turned upside down at a drop of a dime! A day that I can stop fixating on the efficiency of my breaths— and a day that I can run errands without worrying if I will be in the ER by midnight.

On the other hand, on a day that I THINK I am an average person bringing in a few groceries, my condition can literally take my breath away… how romantic. The measurement of my own limits is incredibly difficult to figure out, especially when the same activity yields different results.

I’m sure anyone with an invisible condition can relate when I say that accepting your limits is a total MIND $%&#.

Since we do not have a visible and constant threshold, there’s this level of disbelief that shelters us from our reality… until the symptoms creep up again. So you can only imagine the level of disappointment, or even failure, which lurks when we are reminded by our limits.

Not only do we have to actively convince ourselves that we have a physical or cognitive condition, but we feel an immense amount of pressure to prove it to society. The ongoing stigmas and prejudices that the outside world brings is an uphill battle. This “outside world” could even entail family and close friends.

Moral of the story—If you have a parent, child, friend, or acquaintance that has an invisible condition, treat it with the same respect as any physical pain….and know that there is a story of strength behind their smile.

I hope this resonates with you,

C. Hunter

p.s. Also try not to pass judgment to the young adult parking in the handicap zone– it could be me! :-p

#invisibledisabilities #havegrace #unconventionallimits

#MentalisAsimportantAsPhysical

#MentalHealthMindset #CHunter #MindOverMG