Why do we let our illness props embarrass us?

The other day I was talking to someone who often carries a pillow with her. Due to a back problem, she needs the pillow for sitting in certain kinds of chairs. She said she’s embarrassed to be seen carrying it around. I was surprised. Another day I Handicapped Parkingwas talking with a friend who’s embarrassed to park in handicapped spaces. She knows she needs them, but she looks healthy, so she worries about what other people will think. I tried to encourage her to get the pass, but she refused. These are two stories, but there are so many others. I hear these kinds of things all the time.

ENOUGH!

I’d like to say that I never let those things embarrass me, but it wouldn’t be true. I’ve come a long way, though! Occasionally I worry about what other people think, but then I remember that my health is more important that what strangers think of me. And besides, who are they to judge?

It helps to remember, I’m not the one who should be embarrassed! And neither are you!

If I need to ask for a seat on the train, why I should I be embarrassed? The people who should be embarrassed are the ones who don’t immediately offer up their seats. The people who should be embarrassed are the ones who don’t get up for the pregnant lady with 2 kids and groceries who steps on the train. The people who should be embarrassed are the ones who listen to music so loudly that it bothers other passengers.

When I park in a handicapped space I am very aware that I do not look like I have any disability. But why should I be embarrassed? The people who should be embarrassed are the ones who judge me without knowing me. The people who should be embarrassed are the ones who “borrow” a relative’s pass even though they themselves don’t need it. The people who should be embarrassed are the ones who park horizontally, taking up 3 spaces in the lot just so their car won’t get dinged by someone else’s door.

Sometimes I need a wheelchair when I’m in a place that involves a lot of walking. Sometimes it gets in other people’s way. But why should I be embarrassed? The people who should be embarrassed are the ones who get annoyed at me and say rude things. The people who should be embarrassed are the ones who don’t take 2 seconds from their day to open a door for me. The people who should be embarrassed are the ones who are so preoccupied with whatever they’re reading on their smartphones that they bump into other people.

Needing some sort of help for the sake of our own health and well-being is absolutely, positively, without doubt, in no way any reason at all for embarrassment. Rude, inconsiderate behavior is. So be a good, nice, helpful person for others and you’ll have no reason to be embarrassed. And if someone says something anyway? Do what I do: simply, calmly, and matter-of-factly tell them why they’re wrong. Then walk (literally or figuratively) away with your head held high.

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10 Responses to Why do we let our illness props embarrass us?

  1. Thank you. After being on prednisone for 3 years, I’ve developed foot and leg problems which require that I only wear sneakers (specifically those white “walking shoes”), with really thick white ankle socks. Looks kinda strange when I’m dressed up for work, but probably not as strange as I would look hobbling around in regular shoes. I think my age saves me from comments – who wants to tell someone who likes like their Grandma that she’s likely to annoy the fashion police?

  2. Lisa says:

    “The people who should be embarrassed are the ones who park horizontally, taking up 3 spaces in the lot just so their car won’t get dinged by someone else’s door.”

    For real? People do that? Holy crap. And here I was cursing out the damned SUVs that take up two spots because they insist on parking in the spots meant for compact cars.

  3. balaam says:

    Why do we……

    …because we do not like being defined by our illnesses.

  4. drunkitty2000 says:

    I am with you. This post reminded me a lot of one I made a couple of years ago after I finally reached the point where I would have welcomed an electric shopping cart or a wheelchair, or even a handicap placard. Those days are rare for me now, and ever once in a while my old ways of thinking creep in when I see someone “abusing” these tools. I try to just let it go and realize that I don’t know their situation and they likely do need it for whatever reason. http://fibrokitty.blogspot.com/2010/08/walking-in-our-shoes.html

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