Sure, I have glasses, a limp and a walking frame. I even have an ataxic tremor and a speech impediment. Whilst these are daily difficulties I experience, it’s the ‘invisible’ side-effects like my pain, fatigue and visual issues that are harder to contend with. Because these deficits are ‘hidden’, they can’t be seen to be easily understood, diagnosed and managed.
Over the weekend I went on my new trike with my dog Gilbert. This is a new hobby of mine, where I can go fast on a trail and have Gilbert as my companion sitting in a grey crate at the rear of my trike. It’s amazing – the feeling of going fast, the comfort of having my balance and being more independent. However, Gilbert can quite anxious and needs a bit of reassurance to soothe him. After pedalling for 13km we stopped at a café for a drink. My legs were a little tired but Gilbert was utterly exhausted. In this state, he seriously struggled to even drink from the café’s dog bowl.
It really highlighted to be the HUGE toll that one’s invisible effects ie anxiety, pain or depression can have on their fatigue-levels! It’s easy to overlook the impact that these factors have on performance. Seeing my dog in this state just reinforced what I and others experience and over time, have normalised.
So… what ‘hidden’ disabilities can you be more mindful of to enhance your own and others’ well-being?