But You Don’t Look Ill Part 2 ….

I’m livid! Abso-bloody-lutely steaming! Probably not in the right frame of mind to blog but I have to get rid of this anger.

This morning, I built up the confidence to go to an exercise/dance class. I had been encouraged to do this by my CPN to build my confidence, my psychologist to develop relationships outside of work and my psychiatrist as the anti-psychotic is causing me to gain weight at a rapidly alarming event. So last night, I booked a taxi to get me there as I can’t yet do buses.

This morning, the taxi arrived. I was initially pleased as it was a driver I’d seen before a few times on trips to work. I got in the car and we passed pleasantries. He asked me if I was off to work and I explained I was off to the leisure centre for a class. The conversation went like this:

Him: “On holiday?”
Me: “No, I’m currently off sick”
Him: “And you want me to take you to the Leisure Centre?”
Me: “Yes please”
Him: *Long pause*
Him: “You’re not too sick to go to the Leisure Centre then?”
Him: *Uncomfortable laugh*

Now I do remember the days when, if I’d had a day off school, I wasn’t allowed to go out to play afterwards (if you’re not well enough to go to school ….) but this sort of attitude is just indicative of the demonisation of people with disabilities or long term health problems that @BendyGirl and @Suey2y highlighted in the ‘Ask Ed Milliband’ session at the recent Labour Party Conference, the image that the Daily Fail perpetuates throughout it’s pages and that middle England appears to wholeheartedly believe.

I honestly felt like Jeremy Kyle was going to pop up and accuse me of spending his tax payers money on exercise classes before I reminded myself that I am fortunate enough to be able to work and pay taxes too.

The confidence building exercise was an abject failure. I did complete the class but feel shame not endorphins running through my veins.


8 responses

  1. He was a taxi driver, not Jeremy Kyle. His remark was almost certainly sexist (he wouldn’t have said it to a man) not “illist”. I’m sure you’ve learned from the experience. Be prepared for catty comments. Express your reaction to any. These annoyances happen to everybody many times. Your confidence may be low but the fact you blogged must be a positive. There was certainly no value in keeping it to yourself. Good luck for the next class!

    • Thanks Norman for, as usual, the rationalisation that I am at present a bit to wobbly to do. I would have usually had a rant to my Dad who would have said what you did so consider yourself an honorary father figure!

      I am on reflection quite proud that I managed to shake my booty in front of a mirror and 20 other women for 45 minutes and then blogged about it. It’s such a shame that one of my biggest strengths is beating myself up for things when I’m in a depressive state.

      Onwards and upwards though eh?

      Much love

  2. Oh I know. My therapy session was focussed around misconceptions today – judgements, being misunderstood. Your post has put the full stop on it really. I remember an incident with a secretary at my MHT once. I was feeling particularly fragile, but trying to keep in good spirits with the others in the group. Somebody had come to the door and I had, without thinking, let them in, when officially they should be let in by the secretaries. Not all secretaries are like this, admittedly, but we seem to have a breed here who think highly of themselves. This one stropped out and made a big song and dance about the fact that I had let this person in. At the time, and in the scheme of things, was it truly a big deal? So I smiled sweetly and said, “I understand your point. Today I am psychotic and haven’t taken my medication. Is there anything else you would like to say to me?”. She went away. And a stroppy pharmacist once – a very angry man. Perhaps, I told him, jokily, you should try some of these (my antidepressants). “Already have,” said he, “but they are obviously working for you. I’ve still got to work.” Another sweet smile as I said, “Well, of course, I would work, but dead people don’t make the best colleagues.” Of course, he didn’t know what to say to that.

    Your taxi driver: No, I don’t feel so bad today. The anti-psychotics have kicked in.

    I come prepared for these things now. Pointless, meaningless, thoughtless remarks – sometimes from people who really should know better. It deeply saddens me, underneath the banter, but too many people for too many years did and said these things, and I fell to the floor and let them trample me. No more.

    Shall I take up any more of your page or shall I go away? 😉 P

    • I dread to think what response I could have elicited from the taxi driver if pressed. I can imagine the headlines in the local rag; ‘Psycho Hospital Director Caught At Gym’.

      Feel free to take up as much of my page as you like and keep up the good fight. I will start building a catalogue of stock phrases.

      Thank you for your support.

  3. I get this, entirely. Sometimes I feel like carrying my medical records around, and presenting them to the next person who makes a shitty comment like that. Like we don’t have enough trouble convincing the authorities, members of the public feel they have to pass comment too.


    I did a post on a simlar theme a couple of days ago : http://aliciajduffy.blogspot.com/2011/09/ive-been-thinking-today-why-am-i-so.html – I’m going to start posting the link up whenever anyone online starts up with thier judgyness.

    • Thanks Alicia. Sometimes it feels like I’m creating a rod for my own back by trying to achieve such levels of normality when people have no idea how much effort it takes to do it. Invisible disability is hard that way.

      Thanks for the link. I’ll add you to my blogroll if that’s ok.

      Take care

  4. Oh the rotter, not aware of invisible illnesses. Having to use taxi driver’s to get to a mental health service, many of us devised ploys and strategies to cope. I cunningly say that I ‘do art and mental health, yes that’s what I’m going to now’. Most people stop talking abruptly at the mention of mental health or I’m mistaken for some kind of doctor or therapist (which I don’t disabuse them off) rather than being mental and drawing a picture! But even this can lead to garrulous disclosure, so I always have the ‘I’m sorry I’m listening to my I-pod’ plan as a back up, unless I’m in the mood for a chin wag.

    • Hi Lisa

      I don’t expect people to have an in-depth knowledge of mental health issues but i dont expect to be written off as a scrounger. I do admit to an element of naivity in expecting to be able to be open and not get a slap down and realise that I need a selection of responses that don’t leave me so exposed.

      I’ll add the iPod tip to my portfolio.

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