July 1, 2021

“You Don’t Look Disabled”

The content is produced by CCYAN and their fellow Nathalie Garcia.

You don’t look disabled. 

“You don’t look disabled” but some days I couldn’t go to school because I couldn’t leave my bathroom.

“You don’t look disabled” but I have to go to the hospital every two months for the rest of my life. 

“You don’t look disabled” but I have tried seven different medications for the same disability within three years. 

“You don’t look disabled” but some days my joint pain was so bad I couldn’t even pick up a pencil. 

“You don’t look disabled” but every time I walk into a hospital I am comforted and terrified at the same time.

“You don’t look disabled” but I used to sleep only three hours every single day for weeks because my steroids made it impossible to sleep.

“You don’t look disabled” but some days I can feel my throat close up from suppressing my anxiety.

“You don’t look disabled” but I have sat on my bathroom floor feeling like I couldn’t breathe because the nausea from my medications was so overwhelming.

“You don’t look disabled” but I am.

I have never understood why people tell me I don’t look disabled or that I don’t look sick. What is disability supposed to look like? Disability is not singular. Disability does not look one way. Disability is diverse. 

I do not want to prove I am disabled to strangers or people I know.

Though the intention behind this phrase may be to compliment me, I never feel complimented. I feel small. I feel like a fraud. I feel like I am faking my disability in some way. I feel like I do not know my identity. 

It is time for people with invisible disabilities to stop being doubted for being disabled. It is time for everyone to change their perspective of what disability looks like. We must listen to others’ stories. We must stop being bystanders when people with disabilities are doubted. 

Disability is not a bad word. It is not offensive. We should not be afraid of it. 

I am disabled and I am proud.