"My Disability May Be Invisible, But Here's Why I'm Done Hiding It" by Nourish Member Elizabeth

"My Disability May Be Invisible, But Here's Why I'm Done Hiding It" by Nourish Member Elizabeth

Elizabeth Hinnant, one of our valued members, recently shared her incredible experience as part of Nourish Therapeutic Yoga.

"This year has brought great strides for me both in accepting my illness and in finding ways to grow and adapt inside of it. This yoga community kick-started that progress last December after I went to my first class. Even now, almost 10 years after I wrote this article, I try to hide that I'm in bed when I'm on zoom calls, and I certainly don't lay down during them. But at that first class, seeing so many other people laying down, heads on pillows, not hiding, I felt like I didn't have to hide that part of myself or explain my limitations. I felt like the whole group (and Shannon!) understood that I was doing something challenging for my body, even if it looked like I was laying still.

Feeling understood was such a powerful experience that it encouraged me to find other places where I felt the same thing. I found a disabled therapist, I started connecting with other chronically ill people, and I'm now on my way to finding better doctors who can support my actual body, not the body they think I have. I found a hand therapist with a connective tissue disorder who helped me be able to knit again so I have a low-energy creative activity. I've pursued other supportive activities and environments that suit me, not the me I think I'm still supposed to be. It's a lot of work to peel back the layers, but this community showed me that it's worth the energy, even if I have to do it one micro movement at a time."

Elizabeth Kays has written an absolutely amazing article that was published on HUFFPOST PERSONAL.  "My Disability May Be Invisible, But Here's Why I'm Done Hiding It." It's truly inspiring to see someone bravely sharing their personal journey. 


My Disability May Be Invisible, But Here's Why I'm Done Hiding It.

Elizabeth K. Hinnant

"I used to trade days of pain and exhaustion for a few hours of looking "normal."

"On my way to a friend’s wedding just outside New York City in 2013, I made the mistake of trying to travel by bus rather than taking a taxi from the airport. At rush hour.

As a frequent traveler, I considered myself quite adept at navigating public transportation, but I was not prepared for how inaccessible a seemingly mundane 45-minute bus ride around the city had become for me. Though I was in my mid-20s and looked reasonably healthy, my vascular system was collapsing on the inside.

It was my first solo trip after being diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), a condition in which my blood vessels don’t contract properly, allowing blood to pool in my extremities and causing severe dizziness and other symptoms.

With a nervous system that no longer regulated blood flow correctly, I experienced dizziness, pain and excruciating fatigue if I stood up for more than 10 minutes at a time. As the bus made its way around the city, I could feel my heart rate rising and my blood pressure dropping. My body was struggling to keep blood circulating to my brain, and if I didn’t sit down soon, I could collapse entirely ― potentially missing out on the wedding I’d traveled hundreds of miles to attend.

I looked around at the other passengers and thought desperately about asking for a seat. As I gripped my suitcase for dear life, I considered how the conversation might go. Would I have given up my seat to someone who looked like a young, whiny, entitled white woman? Probably not. So how would I ever convince a total stranger that I was actually disabled? And even if I could, did I really want to?"

Invisible disabilities affect more than 1 in 10 Americans, but people with those conditions often choose to hide them. Among those who have difficulty walking a quarter-mile (13.4% of all U.S. adults in 2014) or climbing a flight of stairs (12.1% of adults), less than half (42.7%) use a mobility aid such as crutches or a wheelchair.

There are many reasons for this, but stigma and other social factors play a large role. Unemployment rates for disabled people are twice as high as those for the able-bodied, and marriage rates average around half those of the general population. Disabled people can also be paid less than the minimum wage with federal approval. The visibly disabled, such as wheelchair users and people with obvious physical differences, bear the brunt of this discrimination.

On the flip side, however, when people with hidden conditions use accommodations like disabled parking spaces or motorized carts, they often face harassment for not looking disabled enough. This risk increases dramatically for people with multiple marginalized identities. (I’m young, white and relatively thin, so more people seem to give me the benefit of the doubt.)

My own reasons for trying to appear able-bodied long after my diagnosis went deeper than fear of stigma, exclusion or condescension. Although I don’t remember hearing anyone actively disparage disabled people when I was growing up, I did internalize a strong drive to be “productive” and meet society’s definition of a capable, independent, responsible person.

“On days when I felt OK (although still at only about 30% of my former capacity), I would try to accomplish everything on my to-do list. I would then rest for three or four days afterward to recover.”

Continue to read the full article by clicking here.



More Than Yoga...A Community that Cares & Gets it!

This empowering network has been crucial to my well-being. I constantly hear about the incredible impact of Nourish Yoga's community.

When it comes to socializing, many Spoonies find themselves caught in a cycle of pushing too hard, only to crash afterward. As a result, It can be challenging to connect with others and become isolated and hidden away.

Here at Nourish Yoga, we understand your struggles and are here to support each other! After every class, we have a community discussion where we can connect in a safe positive environment with fellow warriors. We share strategies, empathize with struggles and relate on a deep level. There has been laughter, tears, wins and losses, and a gained knowledge of how to manage and thrive despite our limitations.

💕 Shannon

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