Yes, I Identify as a person with a non-apparent disability. I have cone dystrophy and nystagmus in
both eyes since birth.
It has had positive and negative impacts. On the one hand I went to a normal school and university and competed with fully abled individuals in every aspect; sports, performing arts (dance/theatre), academia, etc. I did not use my eyes as an excuse to hide behind, but I worked harder and longer in order to be on their level. In school I trained harder to make the football team, in university I practiced twice the number of hours as the other dancers for salsa showcases, developing the practice of critically self-evaluating through recording rehearsals. I use this process to this day for any performance related work I do.
On the other hand, I was bullied and discriminated heavily, which lead to several botched suicide attempts across a period of five years or so. On many occasions I did not get the help and support I needed to work, in school classrooms, whilst learning subjects like Accounting/Economics I was told “You cannot see, but you can hear”, when I was unable to follow charts and tables on the board. I was pitted against other ‘More Blind’ individuals and I stopped asking for any help/assistance struggling in silence.
I definitely think having a ‘thick skin’ is important. I am hypersensitive by nature and this experience has taught me to rely on myself, at the same time being up front with people about my disability and asking for an assist when I need it. I have learned to start walking with a cane in the last few years and have become more comfortable in my own skin after working with the LCA family for the past eight months.