In February 2022, I got my PWD ID in Antipolo City, Rizal while I was still staying with my parents. No one would describe me as disabled if they see me in person. I do not own crutches, a cane, a wheelchair, hearing aids, or an inhaler. Nor do I have a chronic disorder.
My Story: A PWD at 21
I have a psychosocial disability. Diagnosed with clinical depression and social anxiety by my psychiatrist back in October 2021. Since then, I make use of my ID to buy my antidepressant monthly at a discounted price. Having a PWD ID at 21 has its benefits but it also poses a few problems and challenges.
At first glance
“You do not look disabled enough.”
Words said or implied by the able-bodied disabled people they do not see in crutches or a wheelchair. Like we have to prove our disability to every able-bodied person who questions us.
When I was still applying for my PWD ID, my mother told me that I should only use it to purchase my medicine. She has my best interests at heart yet I cannot help but feel hurt by her words. It felt as if I was being told I do not look disabled enough to access PWD privileges and incentives even though it is in the law that I am entitled to them as a PWD.
It took months before I was comfortable enough to present my ID without feeling guilty about it. Eventually, I steeled myself from the questionable looks I would get or thought were coming my way. I do not owe anyone an explanation, much less, strangers.
Public transportation anxiety
I have never once asked for a discount when riding a bus, tricycle, jeepney, or taxi. The high cost of gas and my anxiety guilt trips me into keeping quiet about my disability.
The last time I used my ID for a discount on public transportation was for flights. However, my last flight was slightly anxiety-inducing since PWD, pregnant, and the elderly were all called to board first. I was slow as I was trying to avoid the huge crowd while not trying to draw attention to myself. Yet, an elderly woman was slower and fell in line behind me. I could not move to give way to her because there was not enough space to do so. I stood there feeling guilty with my anxiety building up as the line moved slowly.
Anyway, I am never comfortable with public transportation and refrain from going outside as much as possible to avoid it.
Meals and groceries: Alone and with others
Eating out and buying groceries by myself is never an issue. I just give my ID and the person behind the counter knows what to do.
However, when out with my family and friends I tend not to use it. It is not due to my own fear. Rather, they would not let me do so. Some of my friends and most of my family would decline when I just as much as show it to them.
Until now, I still do not understand exactly why they refrain me from showing my PWD ID. Although, I doubt it comes from a place of shame for being with me.
Comfort room problem
One experience that stuck out to me the most was when I nearly had an anxiety attack in a mall. I forgot what I was there for or how it happened. All I remember was getting tunnel vision and shortness of breath. Tried going to all the nearby female public comfort rooms and there was just a line of women through the door in each one. Each time they stared back at me, my anxiety kicked in and I ran away to find the next comfort room.
I tried opening the PWD comfort rooms I came across but they were all locked. It took an hour for me to find a female public comfort room that did not have a line and with available stalls that I could just sit in.
When I finally calmed down, I tried checking the PWD comfort room just nearby only to find that it was locked, too. Finally, I asked a mall employee about it and they pointed at the doorbell beside the door.
She replied, “Ring it and we will bring the key.” As if it is a completely normal thing to have beside a comfort room. Other comfort rooms in the mall were not like this. Only the PWD comfort rooms.
Telling this story to my friends has them siding with the employee. They argue that people use the PWD comfort rooms when they are able-bodied. First, that is no one’s judgment to make, and second, why would you make a PWD wait for an employee to open a comfort room when you and other able-bodied people do not have to?
All the way from Mindanao, Reimeline is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Media Arts at UP Mindanao with hopes to be an accomplished writer one day. She is mainly a homebody who owns three pet cats and likes to crochet, read stories, play online games, and scroll the internet when she is not writing.