I recently came across something on Instagram that I just had to share with you all. I think you'll like this one. I don't know about you, but I look well to outsiders. I can put some makeup on, get dressed, and appear "normal". I am what someone with an invisible illness looks like.
However, as you'll all know, just because you look well does not mean you feel that way. I struggle to stand for long periods of time as my heart races and my breathing becomes laboured. It is for this reason that I use a shower chair. Using a shower chair is one thing, I can use it in the comfort of my own home without judgement from strangers. What happens when I need a seat on public transport?
I have never in my life asked someone to stand up for me. I probably should have at one point or another. I don't have any obvious physical indicators of illness or disability, and I'm also only in my twenties. This makes it a terrifying prospect to approach a stranger and ask them if they would mind giving up their seat for me. Who am I to ask that? Silly I know. M.E (and many other invisible conditions) are met with public disbelief or total lack of awareness. It makes you feel small. You can't approach strangers when you feel small. If I was to approach someone on a train and ask if they'd stand for me because I suffer from M.E, I would be highly surprised if they knew what that was. That in itself is a problem to tackle another day.
I know there are badges out there that I could wear that indicate I might require a seat due to disability. The problem is the general public aren't looking out for these things. Why would they be? They've got other things on their mind - I get that. So I would still have to pluck up the courage to ask someone while having no idea of what their reaction might be. That's still scary. This is where Ellie at The Enthusiast comes in.
Ellie has created "happy to move for you" badges for able-bodied people to wear on public transport. This acts as a friendly indicator that if you should happen to need a seat for whatever reason, you can approach this individual and they'll move - no questions asked. I cannot tell you how happy this makes me; the idea of their existence fills me with joy. These badges are seemingly such a simple idea, but their scope to enhance the daily lives of those with invisible illnesses is massive. I would feel far more comfortable asking someone wearing this badge for a seat. I would feel validated and understood. I wouldn't feel The Fear. I would feel like I had a friend, an ally. That is a massive deal for someone who normally feels like some sort of alien, living in a world that wasn't made for them.
Accessibility should be the norm, but it isn't. These badges will be a huge help, and I believe Ellie deserves a whole sheet of gold stars for creating such a thing. The difference with these badges is that they don't rely on the disabled to put themselves out there and make themselves uncomfortable. I'm already uncomfortable enough thanks. The roles are flipped here. Instead of the disabled wearing a badge that makes them feel dependant, the able-bodied are wearing badges that make them feel proud. How amazing is that?
At the time of writing this blog post, the badges are currently sold out. It makes me smile to think that Ellie is being supported in her endeavour, and that people are willing to wear these and support those with invisible disabilities. THANK YOU. If you're interested in buying one then you can find them here. You can always bookmark the page for when they come back in stock. I can guarantee you, if you know someone with a chronic illness they will deeply appreciate you purchasing one. It's not just a badge, it's a sign that you believe in our struggle and believe it to be valid.
The badges are £3.00 each, with free First Class delivery included. As well as that, for every purchase a donation is made to Scope, a charity committed to equality for the disabled. Amazing, right?!
Thank you Ellie, you are creating visible allies to us up and down the country. I hope you know how much it is appreciated.
What do you think of these badges? How would they make you feel if you saw one? Let Ellie know in the comments!