Monday, March 13, 2017

The challenges of being a man with a physical disability

When it comes to slowly losing your muscle strength at times it can mean losing the ability to do many things others take for granted. Since I have lost a lot of strength in my arms over the years this has resulted in an inability to carry anything that is too heavy. Things many people can carry with ease such as a jug of milk or even a case of water. This means in many situations my wife ends up being the one carrying the heavy load. This is one of my biggest frustrations whenever we go grocery shopping as this can result in me looking like a jerk. Especially to those who are simple observers as they look at me and wonder why this man is making his wife carry everything that is heavy. As many in society expect the man to do all the heavy lifting. But I do understand that these people have no real clue about my physical limitations, as they see a man who may look perfectly fine in their eyes. Believe me at times I get the stares from total strangers looking me up and down as if they are judging me thinking there's no way this guy has a disability. This is just a part of living with a hidden disability and it has been something I have been dealing with since I was eighteen years old - so it's really nothing new. The truth is some people have a stereotypical view of what someone with a disability should look like and most days I don't fit that mold. So, when they see me not doing what is expected of a man especially when it comes to doing all the heavy lifting they might make the mistake of judging me and thinking I am lazy. I really can't blame them and sure it shouldn't bother me as to what people think as I already know that they simply don't understand.

 Still I do feel bad as I am unable to physically step up and help my wife and I hate the fact that she end's up doing all the heavy lifting. I am so thankful that she understands but to the untrained eye many people view me as a regular guy when they know nothing about my story. It's the same thing when total strangers give me dirty looks when they see me parking in an accessible parking space. Even other people with disabilities at times can be very ignorant to the fact that not every disability is visible. But they are not there when my leg gives out causing me fall or when I trip over a simple pebble on the ground, it's the main reason why I tend to walk with my head down looking for anything that may trip me up. At times it makes me look anti-social since I am always looking down. The facts are only those close to us at times can truly understand our physical limitations, but all too often total strangers make snap judgments simply because they don't know any better. They see the international sign for accessibility being someone in a wheelchair and automatically think that is what everyone with a disability looks like. The facts are ignorant people will always judge others and sometimes we make the mistake of caring what they think. Currently I am slowly becoming okay with other's seeing my wife carrying the things I find too heavy. If they look at me as a lesser man or think I am not a stand-up guy because of this, I don't let it bother me as I can't expect everyone to understand my situation. After all I can admit I may look like a tough guy who can carry my own weight but little do they know looks can be deceiving. In the end, it is truly unfortunate that in this day and age some people still have a stereotypical view of people with physical disabilities. 


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