Invisible disability, or hidden disability, are generally defined as disabilities that are not immediately apparent, and I am one of those cases.
I am walking without a limp, (but only recently). I’m a good looking girl, who is smartly dressed and (drives a white Mercedes). People think that disability doesn’t go with wealth or good looks, that’s why when it comes to parking on disabled spaces and showing my badge, people always react with mistrust or aggression. They don’t believe me and they always ask for proof. In the airport, (It can be painful for me to stand for long periods of time). When I bypass the queue, I hear whispers of disapproval behind my back, for instance “Yeah right, all of us are that kind of disabled”.
The fact is, I cannot walk everywhere with a sign saying “I have a disability” explaining to everybody what my type of disability is and what happened to me. I’m not shouting on every corner about the accident that happened on the night of 16 of October at the street when a hot water pipe burst, causing my legs to suffer multiple burns.
I endured 47 operations, multiple skin transplant operations, 8 toes had been amputated, 2 years of severe depression and lots of attempts to learn how to walk again.
More so, I want to have the right to let my disability be invisible, to decide myself, whether to show it or not, but this freedom to keep my disability out of the public eye, is a result of hard and painstaken work.
When people slowly get to know me, starting with my peculiar legs, they get to know that despite this accident I’m living a free and happy life — for a second they are amazed, but it gets forgotten straight away. As a rule — somebody else’s success, in this instance, does not leave a trace in their personal philosophy. On the contrary, when people recognize a disabled person within the same normal person, most of the time they experience slight shock and disbelief. And lets say, that right at that moment, this feeling of their own wrongness annoys them. This thought about misleading appearance may, possibly, live within for a long time, and next time they will react less confident and more aggressive.
For the majority, what happened to me when I was 20 would be a life changing event, with a huge negative sign. But I DECIDED to consider this episode as a fortunate one.
And to be fair — it is exactly that. We all can rule our universe, while we rule our attitude towards the events that surround us.
Disability, amputation — those are just facts that we give meaning to. Today my most important insight is the following: I make my own decisions. I take responsibility for myself and everything that happens to me.
When people ask me how I managed to overcome my insecurities, I’m lost, because I truly do not understand, how can you not love your body, when it accomplished such a heroic achievement for me. When i’m hot in the summer, I wear shorts, and if the sight of my legs cause disgust in some people — then this is their problem, not mine.
I prefer to worry about something that is within my zone of control. My legs are a part of me. I cannot change them. I may worry about the condition of my hair, a couple of extra kilos — all these things I can change, but if I’m not changing, that’s because of my laziness, for example.
I purposely do not take to laser resurfacing my skin, because every single day, looking at my legs I remember my way — the way it took me to walk on my legs and I’m happy just to be alive. I’m proud of my scars, every one of them. It’s a history of my triumph.
Cate wrote a book called “Lucky Break”, where she described her story and this book will be equally useful for those who experienced huge loss and for those who want to fall in love with their lives.