‘Im just ill respect me for who I am’

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Media caption Ellen has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a condition that impacts connective tissue and joints

“You’re too quite to be handicapped, you’re too young to be handicapped, you’re too wise to be handicapped” – all things Ellen Blunsdon has actually been informed in the street.

It’s encounters like these that have actually made the 20-year-old Edinburgh trainee think individuals require to reassess how they engage with handicapped individuals.

Speaking to BBC Scotland, Ellen, who utilizes a strolling stick, stated: “I get remarks and stares essentially each time I head out – individuals can state things that are simply really unsuitable.

“I was as soon as in a female and a store informed me I was ‘a motivation’ – and I was simply looking for crisps. I’m not a motivation for leaving your house.

“I do not wish to be pitied or patronised. I am a complete individual regardless of my special needs.

“She most likely believed it wasn’t damaging due to the fact that it’s a good remark, however it’s an example that lots of people do not understand how to engage with handicapped individuals.”

‘Not a victim’

Based on her experiences, Ellen believes there requires to be a “switch in mind-set” in the number of communicate with individuals with specials needs.

“I’m not unique, I’m simply ill – regard me for the individual I am,” she stated.

“I do not wish to be viewed as a victim, since I’m not a victim. Handicapped individuals are not victims, there’s absolutely nothing incorrect with being handicapped.”

Ellen has a type of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a condition that impacts connective tissue and can trigger hypermobility of joints, joint discomfort and severe tiredness.

Due to her condition, she utilizes her walking stick, something she accepts is not “regular” for somebody hardly out of their teenagers.


Having provided as “able-bodied”, and without a “marker” of her special needs for many years, Ellen discovered a shift in mindset towards her when she started utilizing her walking stick consistently.

She thinks the stick is a “visual sign” of her special needs, which has actually caused her ending up being “hypervisible”, drawing in “sheepish looks” from the general public, and in some cases more.

The very first time Ellen utilized her walking stick in public, she was verbally mistreated.

Image caption Using a strolling stick has actually increased Ellen’s movement, however she states it likewise keeps her conscious of her restrictions

Remembering the day, she stated: “I was currently really awkward. I clipped past a stag do and heard among them yell: ‘Hurry up lads! Even that handicapped bitch is going much faster than us’.”

Now utilizing a stick regularly, Ellen sees it as a lot more than a movement help.

“It’s ended up being an extension of my body. I have about 6 now. They all have various patterns and I enjoy them a lot.

“It took a while to discover to like them. The very first one I got was a terrible black one that the NHS supplied – it felt a bit like an old guy’s stick.

“Once I discovered more vibrant sticks – they ended up being something that I might reveal my identity with, instead of something that I was really outrageous of.”

Image caption Finding more vibrant sticks has actually permitted Ellen to utilize them to reveal herself

Looking back, Ellen now acknowledges her walking sticks as a “a little a metaphor” for her health problem.

She stated: “I’ve needed to concern accept my disease along with the stick.

“I was accepting that this is the brand-new typical. That this is what’s taking place to me and this is how I will possibly feel for the rest of my life.

“I needed to reconcile it and continue and the stick enables me to do that.”

Her approval nevertheless, has its restrictions. In the house in Aberdeen for Christmas, she chose to leave the sticks behind when leaving your house – not all set to present them to traditional good friends.

Ellen thinks there is insufficient education or comprehending about specials needs and persistent diseases – such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

“I want individuals would comprehend that impairment is a spectrum.

“For individuals with persistent health problems, it can frequently be undetectable. That does not make it any less life altering.

“I might stroll outdoors and look entirely able-bodied and no-one would ever understand – however include the stick I end up being something various.”

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