A teenager with a life limiting disorder has hit back at a ‘judgmental’ person who accused her of not actually being disabled.
Yasmin Swift, from Ashford, Kent, has a serious lung disorder which severely limits her quality of life.
After being diagnosed around seven months ago with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension, the 19-year-old hairdresser has faced a daily battle, struggling to do the simplest of tasks without becoming out of breath or exhausted.
The 19-year-old called out an anonymous driver who accused her of being parked illegally, despite Yasmin having displayed her blue badge
The condition occurs spontaneously, has no known cause and has a life expectancy of up to 17 years with IV line medication therapy. It has forced the former Homewood School pupil to take six months off work as she learned to cope with its symptoms.
‘It’s a life limiting illness. It gives me shortness of breath, tiredness, some people even black out and faint. When I first started getting symptoms, the main thing that I noticed was my legs swelling up, my stomach, my back, and my eyes also became really puffy and sore.
‘I was literally walking the distance of a room before I had to stop walking. My exercise routine went from healthy to non-existent. Where I used to go to the gym five times a week, my health was just getting worse and worse. My mum said she was scared she would lose me.
‘In all, it took me a good year to get a diagnosis. I had so many tests it’s difficult to count. At one point it got really bad, I was constantly in and out of A&E.’
Even though Yasmin’s diagnoses at the end of last year has made things easier, there were other things that would never be easier to cope with.
Yasmin had to take six months off work to learn to cope with the symptoms of the disease
These were things like the reaction from some people whenever she parks in a disabled space. Although Yasmin is perfectly entitled to do so, her invisible illness means others make judgements on whether or not she is actually disabled.
That is exactly what happened Thursday evening (July 19) when the former St Michaels resident headed to a pub in Tenterden with one of her friends.
After parking in a disabled space outside the Prezzo on the high street, and despite fully displaying her blue badge, a cruel note was attached to the windscreen of Yasmin’s car. Shocked and hurt by the brazen note, Yasmin took to Facebook to call out whoever left the message, eager to raise awareness about peoples’ attitudes to invisible illnesses.
Yasmin said discovering the note made her ‘furious’ and desperate to challenge outdated attitudes about disabilities.
She said: ‘Whoever wrote this couldn’t write their name, couldn’t write their number and didn’t want to approach me in person.’
Yasmin was diagnosed with the lung disease at the end of last year and has since been learning to cope with its symptoms
‘I was angry and frustrated. To be honest it does make me laugh because I just think people are so arrogant to people with invisible illnesses. Where I’m young and I look well people are just so quick to judge. You can tell people are staring when you get out of the car, but nobody had actually said anything before, let alone left a note.
‘When I put my badge up I feel like I have to walk out of the car limping. But I shouldn’t have to feel like that, because there is an illness there but it just doesn’t show.’
Yasmin said the diagnosis was a relief at first but now its just difficult to live with.
‘Now I’m on medication its more manageable, I’ve actually had a pump fitted now which I have to take my medication through, it’s permanently attached to me.
‘If I could speak to you, the person that left the note, I would say, just please don’t judge. Just because I’m not in a wheelchair or have a visible ailment, it doesn’t mean I’m not entitled to use a disabled space.
Yasmin is eager to raise awareness about peoples’ attitudes to invisible illnesses.
‘On the one hand I just wish I had been able to see you so I could speak to you. But on the other, actually I wouldn’t want to waste my breath on someone so judgmental. I understand that you could make that judgement, but its one of them things you might maybe think, but you wouldn’t actually go to the point of actually writing that on someone’s car.’
After posting about the note on social media, Yasmin said the reaction from people on Facebook has been amazing.
‘A lot of people are commenting and I cant even look properly. I’m just scrolling through taking it all in. Everyone has been really nice and just really supportive about it all. I think everyone is angry about how someone could make that judgement.
What is idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension disease?
Idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH) is a lung disorder characterised by high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries. In this instance, ‘idiopathic’ means that the cause of the pulmonary artery hypertension is unknown.
The primary job of your pulmonary arteries is to carry blood from the right side of your heart to your lungs. This disorder causes your blood to flow through the stiff and narrowed pulmonary artery with greater heart pumping force.
IPAH and other forms of pulmonary hypertension are dangerous because high blood pressure in your pulmonary arteries strains your heart and causes serious heart and lung problems.
‘I just hope that the post makes people think before they jump to such damaging conclusions.
‘Something like that could seriously affect someone with an invisible illness. It’s lucky I am how I am and it just kind of brushes past me, but to some people that note could have had a big effect on them,’ she added.
Speaking to the MailOnline, Megan Elizabeth Knight, who was injured on duty three years ago whilst working for the Metropolitan Police, said she has also faced similar backlash.
‘I damaged multiple vertebrae in my spine causing nerve damage and complex regional pain syndrome in my right leg. Along with PTSD. I am still undergoing treatment three years on.
‘My injuries have taken so much away from me in all aspects of my life, but having a blue badge gave me some independence back.
‘I can’t even begin to tell you the disgusting things people say to me, most of the time I’m left in tears or having a panic attack. Once I had someone come over to my vehicle and open my car door to interrogate and berate me about my condition.’
Megan said she thinks more should be done to address so called invisible disabilities.