We are inundated with unsolicited advice when we go out in public, so much so we dread travelling outside our house.
Will parking in the supermarket and displaying my blue badge mean some random stranger to launch a scrounger hate filled rhetoric in my direction? Or will this be the time that it stops being verbal and turns to something physical? Is it worth the risk to find out?
These are thoughts that I wrestle with more and more these days, every retelling from another disabled individual fuels my fear for my own safety while doing something that millions do everyday. Shop for food.
Disabled hate crime is disgusting, even more disgusting is that it's those charged with supporting and helping us have any kind of life who is fuelling this fire of hatred.
Discrimination of all types is morally and legally wrong.
Why is disabled hate crimes not considered just as vile as someone verbally and physically attacking another person because of their skin colour, religion or sexual orientation?
I battled against the believed stigma that being classed as disabled would label me as. In fact as a teenager my Mother was entitled to financial help from the government through benefits for me given my spinal deformities and how badly they affected and eroded my life.
I lost my teenage years, years when other girls where learning about their own awakened emotions, burgeoning feelings fuelled by the chemicals racing through their bodies. Learning how it felt to begin maturing and taking the first steps into womanhood.
I was finding out how it felt to have long sharp needles inserted into my spinal column, learning how uncomfortable it felt to have to lie on cold tables and be x-rayed. Finding how awful it felt when your menstrual cycle aggravated my spine so badly I couldn't straighten out of the foetal position because of the added debilitating pain.
As an adult I fought and overcame a very bad flare up of my spinal problems, developing IBS and managed to keep working full time through it all. I was so proud of myself, but you know what they say, that pride comes before a fall?
And fall I did!!
At 28 I went to the doctors with what I thought was a pulled muscle and came away with the diagnosis of RA. Something that was later confirmed by the hospital as well.
At 30 after six months of hospital tests my RA was confirmed and I was put on a disease modifier to add to my list of daily medications. I also lost my job when their doctor said it would at least a year to 18 months before they could even think about giving any feedback to when or even if I could return to my job or any other job at the firm I spent 12 years working at.
I was given instead early medical retirement instead.
In 2003 I was forced due to degenerative condition and financial restraints to claim DLA. I was given the higher rate mobility indefinitely given the degenerative nature of my disease I would only get worse over time.
By this time my list of disabling conditions had been increased once again with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.
It took me years to accept that the name disabled applied to me. To make some kind of peace with the fact that I was disabled. To accept that this was not a stigma it just was. It was just me. Or more precisely it was my body. The broken body that the real *me* lived inside of.
Now I truly understand why my Mother didn't want me to live under the stigma of being labelled disabled. Now I understand fully why she was against it being applied to me in any way even temporarily.
All I can do is thank her for the years where this label didn't impair me, thank her for allowing me to know what it felt like not to be defined by something outside my control, to be judged by it.
This memories now, even though shrouded in the pain and bad memories that time invokes, are precious to me every time I am in too much pain to consider trying to sit upright let alone attempt to leave my bed.
So thank you for allowing me to know what it was like not to be defined by my broken body, I treasure those memories of being normal more than you would ever believe.