Hidden Disabilities

In support of our THIS-ABILITY campaign, Youmanity wishes to challenge stereotypes surrounding the meaning of 'disability'. Disability does not always come with a wheelchair. There are countless different conditions affecting millions of people who suffer in silence. As you stand on a crowded train and wonder why the person next to you not smiling is unfriendly, think again. It may be the case that they are containing the symptoms of a painful hidden disability. Below is the account of one such person whose identity we shall keep anonymous.

“I will describe a typical day for me when my condition is active:

It usually starts the night before, up all night constantly having to use the bathroom. Eventually, when I realise it’s not going to settle, I take 4 Imodium tablets. It’s 45 minutes before they kick in and help, by this time it’s usually about 3am and I have to be up for work at 6.30am, so with a bit of luck I will get 3 hours sleep.

I am up at 6.30am feeling absolutely drained. I still carry on and attend work hoping that I can make the journey without an accident, although I am all prepared I have extra kit to make sure if I do have an accident I will be able to clean up and carry on with my working day. You may ask, why go to work?

The reason I do is because I cannot give in to this condition. I have had major surgery in the past and I have been off work for long periods of time and according to my consultant it is likely I will have further surgery.

My disability is hidden, I look perfectly fine to others. Here is a list of my rules to cope with day-to-day life.

1. Make sure I know where all the toilets are in my local area. 2. If travelling make sure I take my Imodium.

3. When I arrive scout about to make sure I can get access to toilet facilities, this includes shops, pubs, restaurants, and public conveniences.

4. Make sure I have tissues and wipes. Make sure I have a supply of Imodium/pain killers.

Have you guessed my disability? Crohn’s Disease.

Workplace adjustment

If you suffer from either Crohn Disease or Ulcerative Colitis you should discuss your condition with your workplace/ HR.

You should be allowed to get into work later if you had any problems on your way to the office. Such an arrangement should make you feel less anxious and more reassured.   

Useful information

According to the charity Crohn’s/Colitis UK there are 300,000 people who suffer from Crohn’s and Colitis in the UK alone, more HERE   

An advocate of Invisible Disabilities is Chiara De Marchi. Author of the book Women Fighters, De Marchi is now working on an important project to raise more awareness of Invisible Disabilities. More details HERE


An important organisation facilitating productivity between This-Abled persons, employers and businesses is the Business Disability Forum. More info HERE

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