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bathroom stalls

The Big Bathroom Stall

There’s a widespread misconception about the big bathroom stall. According to my former coworker:

The big bathroom (stall) is (only) for old people.

As a young woman suffering from an invisible illness I find this mindset baffling and quite disturbing. We are living in 2017 and there are still people who refuse to accept or even acknowledge the suffering of others because of their looks or their youth. The even more mind-blowing aspect of this is that it’s not just bathrooms. People have this mindset about almost everything that pertains to disability – parking spaces included.

I read a Facebook post by a young lady today; she too has Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The post talked about how she and her boyfriend go to a certain (very large and well known) fast food restaurant every morning for coffee. One morning in particular, she was basically verbally attacked for parking in a handicap space, which she did every day. By the manager of all people! Well, when she showed this individual that she is in fact handicapped and does have a permit to park in the space, he pretty much just called her a liar and threatened to call the police next time she comes to the establishment.

But why?

Why is it that we in the chronic illness community are so vulnerable to being judged solely upon how we look? More importantly, why do people assume they have the right to verbally abuse us because we don’t fit into their small, stigma-filled box of “qualified disabled people?

There’s no one special “look” for a disabled person. There’s no age restriction on suffering.

For some reason when I read that post it reminded me of what my coworker said. When my coworker made the statement about the bigger bathroom stall only being for older people, I could have said so many things. In that moment, I think I was just so baffled by the stupidity of the statement that I was at a loss for words.

No, the bigger bathroom is not only for older people. I was 22 years old when I had my first ostomy. Do I not deserve space to organize my supplies freely and comfortably manage my condition? After major surgery, do I not deserve to park within a decent proximity to avoid extra strain, accidents or hernias? I’m almost certain the manager of that restaurant had the exact same mentality as my coworker. Because you see a young woman with the ability to walk and drive means she’s okay, right? Wrong.

Assuming that someone is healthy or okay solely based upon looks or age is wrong.

And verbally abusing said person is a crime. Living with an invisible illness is frustrating enough, especially when you’re diagnosed at a young age and spent the majority of your life catering to your condition. It’s difficult enough dealing with stigmas, misconceptions and lack of awareness of our conditions. The last thing we need is more judgment. Young disabled people deserve the same respect as anyone else, even if their condition is not visible to the naked eye.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    12 months ago

    This is definitely a frustrating aspect of IBD. Most of us are diagnosed in our early years, so it’s hard for people to see someone “young” be disabled. We just have to continue pushing forward and try to educate as best we can.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • Sickforever
    2 years ago

    The BIG BATHROOM STALL hit the nail right on the head ! When are people going to realize that our illness is no different than any other disability ! Almost everyone I speak with knows of Crohns disease but have no real idea what we go through on a daily basis. I am DISABLED now I just have to prove it to the government, I haven’t been able to work for quite a few year’s. From what I have been told me getting disability will not be an easy task but I will fight to the end ! I would love to see the people making these decisions live 2 week’s with my disease and then let them make a decision weather I am DISABLED or not !!!!

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