The Pressure To ‘Perform’ My Disability For Able-Bodied People

Invisible Illness


By Jennifer Lerner in The Mighty.


Within a month or so of my concussion, I had taken an official leave of absence from work. Several times a week, I would go to my local gym to work out, as moderate exercise was supposedly good for concussion recovery. Nothing too crazy, just 10 to 12 minutes on a stationary bike to start off. One of those days, when I was at the gym, my work called to ask me a work-related question they weren’t able to answer on their own.

As I answered the phone, I became paranoid, worrying they would hear the background noise of the whirring machines and find out where I was. I feared that if they knew I was at the gym, they would think I was “faking” my disability: “If she’s well enough to work out, why isn’t she well enough to come in to work?” I imagined them saying. I panicked, and made up a lie that I was at the supermarket and that I would call them back in half an hour. Even that early into my concussion, I feared I wasn’t performing disability “correctly.”


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