There are thousands of chronic illnesses and even more people who have chronic illnesses. It’s hard for most people to believe, but yes, young people have various chronic illnesses too. I cannot tell you how many times I have told somebody I have a chronic illness and the response I got back was, “But you’re so young.”
I developed a chronic illness at the age of 14. I was barely navigating life as a teenager and a freshman in high school, then a chronic illness was thrown on top.
Complex regional pain syndrome is an invisible illness so most people would never know you’re battling one. Being a young person with an invisible illness makes this situation even more difficult.
I haven’t had many visible accommodations such as a wheelchair or walker. My most visible accommodations have always been casts, boots, crutches and braces from various injuries I have had over the years that are exacerbated by my CRPS.
I have a disability parking pass I can use at school when I need it. The constant looks I get and smart remarks I have heard often range from, “Why is she parked in a disability spot? She looks fine,” to “She’s too young – she probably is using her grandparents’ tag.”
Young adults and children with chronic illnesses experience this on a daily basis. Most of the public is uneducated on how pain and disease affect young people too. We are not faking an illness to get a close parking spot. We would much rather be able to walk long distances to get to the entrance. The discrimination against young people with chronic and invisible illnesses needs to end.