While Ste Walker may look perfectly healthy, the 24-year-old from Halifax is actually battling a debilitating disability.
Suffering from Crohn’s disease – which affects the digestive tract – Ste has undergone three life-saving operations in the past two years. He has to live with a central line that goes to his heart and feeds him, as well as an ileostomy bag – or stoma – to collect his poo outside his body.
Living with this condition is difficult enough, and Ste also has to deal with abusive comments from people who don’t understand that you can’t always ‘see’ disability.
In a recent Facebook post, he explained how he often is called out for using a disabled toilet, or parking in a disabled spot, all because he doesn’t ‘look disabled’.
After explaining the physical reality of living with Crohn’s Disease – including the ileostomy bag and the tubes to drain his stomach – Ste said:
“It’s not just these physical conditions I have to deal with and fight everyday, there is also a mental battle raging inside me all the time, not been able to eat a meal in 2 years, or only been at home for 4 weeks in the last 18 months, been away from my family and friends, seeing what my illness does to them has a massive effect on my mental state of mind.”
He then said:
“So the next time someone says to me “well you look perfectly fine, why are you using that disabled toilet, or parking in that disabled spot, your conning the system, your not disabled, you don’t need that walking stick” just stop and think maybe I just want TO BE FINE or to feel normal, you don’t no what I go threw on a daily basis and you have no right to judge me just on your perception of me that you can see because you don’t no what goes on inside…..so stop and think before you speak, think about the struggle I’ve gone threw just to get out of bed and get dressed and tried to look ‘normal’…..”
We hope that this brave and powerful post teaches people something about the nature of disability.