I had to stop working and attending college when I became too ill to continue. I have several diseases that affect me physically but not visibly. I have severe asthma, immune deficiency disease, Crohn’s, arthritis, and avascular necrosis that cause daily pain, extreme fatigue, and severe gastrointestinal symptom
Crohn’s disease can be incredibly debilitating. Living with the weakness, fatigue, urgent bowel movements, intestinal pain, and secondary conditions associated with the condition is extremely challenging. What makes it even harder is that Crohn's is an invisible disease and its symptoms are not apparent to others. Many people with invisible diseases deal with discrimination and disbelief. Last year, before I started using a wheelchair, I experienced prejudice when I parked in a handicap-accessible parking space. I encountered skeptical looks and people voicing their opinions as to whether I needed the parking spot. One woman even called the police because she thought I was faking my illness and accused me of stealing a parking placard. When a police officer arrived, he told her that she had no valid reason to call, and admonished her for harassing a person with a disability. She apologized, but her words had hurt my feelings. She had assumed that because I didn’t look disabled, I must be faking. We need to raise awareness about the existence of invisible illnesses. I’m in a wheelchair now, so I don’t get judged for parking in handicap-accessible spots, but that doesn’t mean that I am more deserving of them than others with disabilities.