ABCs of Disability: Signs

I read an interesting article recently about being kind and gentle to one another. The author wondered if it would be easier if we wore signs when we were having problems instead of wearing masks and pretending that everything is OK. The signs would say what was wrong so that people would  immediately understand and those in pain would be treated kinder and gentler.

Because when things aren’t OK, there are signs. Some are subtle, some glaring. Forgotten lunches. Darker circles under the eyes from a lack of sleep. Being sad. Being angry.

It is a busy world today. No different from any other time. But, we still notice the signs that something is not right in another’s life. And when you notice the sign, what do you do?

Do you ignore it, busy with your own stresses and responsibilities? Does it get mildly noticed in passing, but not really registering? Or do you make assumptions about what the other person should be doing with their lives so that it doesn’t interfere with your own?

The author, Melody Ross, talks about her experiences. Her husband was in an accident, had a brain injury that lasted several years and was not in a good place. During this time his personality changed and many times he could not remember things but, there were times he was back to his old self.

During one of these lucid times, she explained their financial situation and he made arrangements to have different vehicles from their farm lined up by the road, but still on their property, with a sign saying they were for sale and the prices. And, you guessed it. Someone had to call and complain about what they considered an eyesore.

It only took a few hours to receive the angry call. The caller  said things such as it was bringing his (the phone caller) property value down and why would you do something like this. Melody’s husband responded in a wonderful way.

“Sir,” he said, “There was a time in this country, in this community…when if you drove past your neighbor’s house and saw every single thing they own was for sale in front of their house…and that their lawn had not been mowed for weeks….that you would stop and say….WHAT IS GOING ON, SOMETHING MUST BE TERRIBLY WRONG, WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP YOU?”

Those of us with chronic illness know there are signs but, so many times, we try to hide behind the mask of “I’m doing OK”.  Chronic illness takes so much of the “normal life” away such as the energy to drive to appointments or cleaning your home. But, we struggle with asking for help.   has an article at KevinMD.com on How to ask for help when chronic pain or illness strikes.

If you know someone who has a chronic illness or disability, what can you do to help?

The American Psychological Association has an article on giving support to family or friends who have a chronic illness. And this post from Living with Gastroparesis has a wealth of ideas on how you can help, with ideas and suggestions on what to give someone, what not to say or assume (so important) and different things that you can do to help give those with chronic illness a break from their responsibilities.

There are so many ways you can help. Are you seeing the signs?

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