Excuse me, may I have your seat please?

"please offer me a seat" sticker in london underground

Asking someone else, especially a stranger for their help can feel like a huge mountain. It is effectively an admission that “I need your help” or “I’m not strong enough to manage this by myself”, these can be just as disabling psychologically as any wheelchair or stick can be physically. But therein lies the problem, just because I can’t say that I need a seat does not alter the fact that I NEED a seat. This can potentially lead into a whole new unexpected consequence of having your particular ailment, become one that is a psychological rather than physical battle and this is one which can be far more disabling than what people expect when they hear that someone is disabled.

If we wind the clocks back to 2008, I had recently been diagnosed with MS but I was yet to require any crutches to get about. I was in my early twenties, I looked ‘normal’, healthy, I did not look like someone who would require a seat. I certainly didn’t look like a person you would offer your seat to on a bus yet I still had difficulties standing for an extended period. I still remember going to one of the coffee mornings the MS society runs (I have always been partial to a slice of cake) and one of the members asked me if I had come with my mum or dad. As great as it was to look healthy, the truth was that I wasn’t.

In awesome news for other people with hidden disabilities, transport for London has begun trialling these new badges for individuals with disabilities. They have previously brought in a badge for pregnant women with great success. I really hope that these badges have a similarly successful effect. Yes I can see the potential negative impact of these, whether that be similar to the ‘borrowing’ of your mums blue badge for free parking or ‘I’m advertising the fact I have a disability’ (I have had the internal concerns in head). Yes, there will be the small minority that will take advantage of this badge and yes, some people will make snap judgments (we all do to a lesser or greater extent) but to the negative side I say be gone with you! People naturally tend to lean more towards the good guy side than the bad and secondly who cares what other people think about you? (Last time I checked it wasn’t actually any of your business)

If you would excuse me, I am off to take advantage of the delightful weather we are currently experiencing and I shall get myself an ice cream cone.

Gav xx

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