There has been a big push for these signs to be displayed on all disabled toilets recently but it sadly appears not everywhere has caught up and awareness, even amongst the disabled community is lacking.
People with Crohns and Ulcerative Colitis often need to make multiple bathroom trips a day. They suffer severe diarrhoea episodes and urgency issues which often lead to humiliating accidents. Some, like me, have ileostomy or colostomy bags. These require space and time to emp…ty and clean. If your bag is leaking you may need to change the whole thing as well as your clothes.
You cannot tell from looking at a person with these things what they have wrong. Invisible illnesses are just that – invisible to the outside world – but they are no less severe or life changing just because you can’t see them and how they affect the person suffering from them.
I also feel that age is an issue and most of the issues I have experienced are with older people/the elderly. Some of them feel that just because they are old qualifies them to be using disabled facilities, even if they are physically well. Social media is a great platform for raising awareness but unfortunately the older generation tend to miss out on alot of this as many of them aren’t actively online.
Being questioned, tutted and glared at for using the disabled toilets is one of the most humiliating things I’ve gone through, particularly since my ileostomy operation. I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis since before I started using a toilet and have used disabled toilets for the extra support I need getting on and off the toilet and as it is higher. I’m not ashamed of my bag, certainly not now, but in the early days when I was still getting used to it and how my body had changed, the thought of having to ‘prove’ why I was using the disabled bathroom would fill me dread. Would they react with disgust? Would they make me show them my bag to prove it? My confidence with my bag has greatly increased over the months but I know many people continue to struggle with this and the thought that they need to then deal with this added pressure when using public toilets is saddening.
No one should ever need to feel this way and it’s why the campaign to get these signs on all public toilets is so important, aswell as increasing the awareness surrounding Invisible illnesses in general!
Would love to see where you have spotted these signs if you have. Share a photo in the comments – I still haven’t seen one unfortunately although they are supposed to be rolling out country wide!