When Julie McGovern, from Little Rock, Arkansas, got back to her car after running some errands, she found a shocking note on her car windshield. The young woman had parked in the handicapped space, as per her permit, but someone decided not to believe her. So they left a hurtful note.
The note, which simply read, “Faker,” threw McGovern into a state of disbelief and made her feel “invalidated” and as though her “fear came true,” as she stated in a heartfelt Facebook post.
While she is young and healthy-looking, McGovern suffers from an invisible illness called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), which can affect “literally every organ in the body.” And it’s something she had then been struggling with for over eight years. She explained in her post that it took years from her starting to feel unwell to being finally diagnosed.
She also had to face disbelief from many people, including her doctors. But her illness is indeed severe. “[M]y body cannot withstand the pool of gravity, so the blood drops to my feet, which can cause a loss of consciousness,” she wrote. “Due to this, I am unable to stand for long periods of time or walk long distances.”
But that doesn’t stop people around her from judging, nor her from feeling afraid of getting negative reactions every time she uses the handicapped parking permit her doctor gave her. McGovern confesses in her post that she would often sit in her car, waiting until there was no one around to see her walk out. And when she saw that note left on her windshield, she felt angry that a stranger “incorrectly perceived” her situation due to their belief that “it is impossible for someone [her] age to have an illness.”
McGovern ends her powerful post with a message of hope and states that she wants to keep raising awareness. Many times people make the wrong judgment based on appearances, and that can have a lasting effect on those who are suffering.
“Today, my illness was invalidated, but it doesn’t make my illness any less real or my fight any less important,” McGovern explains. “I will continue to park in the handicap spot, and i will raise my head high and continue to join the fight in searching for a cure.”
This brave young woman’s statement didn’t go unnoticed as she received thousands of shares on Facebook, and the Daily Mail also reported her story.
In 2017, McGovern was invited to make an appearance on the TV Show The Doctors, where she further talked about her illness and the stigma she has been facing because of it. While talking about the incident with the note, she described it as “another slap in the face.” She also reiterated how important it is to raise awareness about how debilitating her illness is even if it’s invisible to the naked eye.
Whoever put that note on McGovern’s car made a snap decision about someone’s health by merely glancing at them. However, the young woman decided not to take the abuse and spoke up against it. This story should serve as a reminder that we don’t know other people’s stories and struggles and shouldn’t point accusatory fingers based on appearance.
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