How I "Came Out" As a Cripple



In December last year, I became a part-time wheelchair user, due to the effects of my EDS.  My main concern was how people I know would react to this.  I didn't want people seeing me and ending up in a state of shock, assuming that I'd been in some kind of horrific accident.  I was fine!  But just getting about in a much easier way, which gave me a lot more freedom.  But I wanted to let people know this.  I thought about it and realised the best way to do it was through Facebook.  So that's when I 'came out as a cripple'.   And here's the status:

"So this is a REALLY long one but I feel like it's something I need to do. It's kind of like a coming out status, but rather than coming out as gay, I'm coming out as a cripple. Yes, seriously. I've been debating whether or not to post this because the idea of letting everyone know something I've always kept private is kind of scary to me. But I'm rambling now. Basically, the point of this is that I now have an electric wheelchair I'll be using to get around in. Not all the time, but for days when I'd usually be doing a lot of walking, which I've finally accepted and can now admit is something I can't do. A lot of you probably already know - some of you won't - but I have a condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. It's a connective tissue disorder, which basically means the glue which holds everything together in my body doesn't work properly.

For me, it causes muscle weakness, exhaustion, pain, joint dislocations, breathlessness and so much more - basically anything you can think of that's uncomfortable to live with every day. Walking around has always been hard for me, but I've always fought it.  I've lost count of the amount of times I've tried to push my body to be like 'normal' people and ended up in tears in the middle of town because of the pain I've been in. I want to be able to go shopping, something I've never really been able to do in 22 years because my body just isn't strong enough. I want to go to the nature centre and mingle with the monkeys, without ending up in tears and having to rest for days afterwards. When most people think of a wheelchair, they think it restricts people, stops them from doing things. But for me, my body does that. Using a chair when I need to will do the opposite, it'll mean I'll finally have the freedom to do the things I want to do. But without the pain and tears, yay! I didn't need to put this status and please don't think I've put it for sympathy. I've done it because I'm actually really nervous about going out in a wheelchair and being seen by people I know, who think I'm perfectly healthy. It's gonna take a while for me to feel comfortable in it, because it's hard not to be self-conscious at the best of times, never mind when you're rolling round looking like Stephen Hawking. But I just felt like this was something I needed to do to help myself accept it more.  And if you're still reading this, you deserve a medal because that was proper long - soz mate!"

The reaction to this status was incredible. I didn't want pity or sympathy, I simply wanted to know that if I saw people around, there wouldn't be any awkwardness. So just having those likes & comments from people, letting me know they'd read it, made me feel so much better!

Poppy's Instagram: poppyakinola

Poppy's Twitter: poppyakinola

Holly Gouldthorpe