By Sarah Hocking
Sometimes I think I need to get around with this sign on the back of my T-shirt. Having a hidden disability is hard. People can’t see that I am legally blind. I don’t use a cane because I push a pram. I have enough functional vision to get to places with a little bit of difficulty. If you don’t know me you wouldn’t think there was anything wrong with me unless you look closely. It is hard getting out and about. No matter how hard I try not to run into people sometimes there are near accidents. I do a little bit of pram bashing like heading off the side of the road when a shadow casts over because I can’t see the boundary. Or taking up more of the footpath than I actually should. People walking in the opposite direction come into my view only within a few metres and if they are wearing a colour that blends into the background then that makes it even more difficult. I have a lot of near misses. It comes across as if I am a bulldozer. I don’t mean to bulldozer.
Some days are just hard. I forgot to put my low vision sign on my pram this morning. I was on my way to BootCamp. It is a 2.5 km walk there and back. I nearly pram bashed a lady and her toddler. She was quite rude and just said "no worries!". I don’t blame her. To her I would’ve looked like I was the one that was being rude and not making room. Although I didn’t clip her, I still felt terrible. I apologised to her but it was probably too late. This sort of experience gets to me. It is hard. And it is hard to shake off. I hate coming across as a horrible person. I know that I’m not and I know those that know me don’t think I am.
It would have been easier to just turn around and go back home, but I didn’t. I try not to let these experiences define my day. If I was to turn around and go back home that would have let my disability define me as a person, but I am much more than just the legally blind Mum. It is just a label right? I let the rest of the walk shake it off and had a great Bootcamp session and now I am shining. Some days you just have to keep pushing through. I need to do things for myself and I need to put myself out there. I also need to get my kids out and about! I do it for them!
It is hard having a hidden disability. You really need to grow a thick skin. For now I will make sure that my low vision sign is securely attached. It might save the confusion for both parties.
I am sure that if the woman who I nearly ran into knew that I was visually impaired she would have made accommodations for me. It is important that I have my sign up for this reason. Most people are accommodating.