A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Invisible disabilities

I'm continuing with my theme of serious posts for this one. You may get another serious post when I do my next one, or you  may get my usual bit of fluff. I can't say for sure because I write as the feeling I need to strikes me.

Let me tell you about something I experienced at the pharmacy the other day.

I was at the pharmacy to ask about one of the medicines I'm taking since my doctor just went on vacation and I figured they'd be the best ones to know about it. There was a woman there. She looked to be in her early to mid 20's and she was trying to get her pain medication and the woman at the counter (who was not the pharmacist) was giving her crap about being on a narcotic pain killer for "so long".

My guess was that this woman had been getting her prescription here fairly regularly. The young woman kept telling the pharmacy tech that she was disabled and needed it to get through the day. The pharmacy tech snorted and made rude comments about her "needing it" like she was addicted.

At this point, I'm pissed. I have an invisible disability myself (see my previous post about mental health issues) and hearing pharmacy techs give people shit because they're on a serious med (my neurontin is considered one of those "serious meds" apparently) really gets me upset. Now, my anxiety is through the roof because I have to ask about my neurontin. But I get up behind this young woman who is near to tears and say loudly, "Not all disabilities can be seen, dumbass."

The pharmacy tech didn't look impressed. "What do you know about disabilities?"

"I'm disabled myself," I told her. "So I understand the need for medications other people might think I'm trying to get just because I'm addicted. This woman probably has some kind of chronic pain disorder like fibromyalgia and needs the pain meds to get through her day. Without them she's writhing in pain and can't function. Would you like to have that to wake up to every day?"

The pharmacist came over and sent the tech off on break or something. She personally filled this young woman's prescription and, to my surprise, I'd guessed right. She suffers from diabetes and fibromyalgia and needs the pain meds to get through her day. We exchanged phone numbers and have texted several times since then so my being bold (and sending my anxiety through the ceiling, roof, and ozone) proved to be beneficial to the both of us. I also got my question about my meds answered and was able to go on my way.

Invisible Disabilities is an umbrella term that captures a whole spectrum of hidden disabilities or challenges that are primarily neurological in nature.  Here's a good definition and a short list of invisible disabilities. (The quote I just used as a definition comes from this link.)

Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there. There are those of us who live with disabilities every day, many much more debilitating than mine, who can't get help for our disabilities because we look healthy. No one wants to believe us, even with doctor's notes, that we're disabled.

But we are. And we deserve to be treated with respect and not made to feel like shit because some idiot gets a stick up their butt about us lying. We're not lying, folks. You just can't see it.

So remember if someone tells you that they're disabled, give them the benefit of the doubt.

(And if you've got one of the invisible disabilties, check this out.)


  1. Oy, another one close to home! Speaking as the friend of a person with...can't remember, but it makes it hard for her to keep her balance and she walks odd...yes. She gets a lot of looks for using handicapped parking spaces even though she has the plate. People are just SO DAMN SURE she's faking.

    Even though by rights she should have been stuck in a wheelchair years ago.

  2. Oh, this made me want to cheer! Well done for sticking up for that poor girl. I'm one of those invisibly disabled, too. As is my son. It would be so much easier to be taken seriously if there was a physical disability instead, but neurological disabilities are just as crippling. Sending you hugs!