Answering what the biggest daily challenge for those with disabilities is somewhat impossible because there are so many different ways someone can be disabled. On job applications in America, they list the following as examples of what qualifies as a disability with a note that there is even more disabilities they didn’t list:
Autoimmune disorder including but not limited to lupus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, or HIV/AIDS
Blind or low vision
Cardiovascular or heart disease
Deaf or hard of hearing
Depression or anxiety
Gastrointestinal disorders including but not limited to Crohn's Disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Missing limbs or partially missing limbs
Nervous system condition including but not limited to migraines, Parkinson’s disease, or Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Psychiatric condition including but not limited to bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), or major depression
When people think of what an example of a disability is, they typically think of mobility aids such as wheelchairs and white canes. However, from the list provided, many other disabilities are not as visible. These types of disabilities are known as invisible disabilities.
Image Description: A photo of the International Sign of Access
As for my own experience, I have nerve damage and PTSD amongst other things. Although my debilitating neck pain and PTSD were caused by the same incident, they are individual disabilities.
I can only describe my experience with chronic neck pain as being a constant pain that gnaws at me. It’s always in the background like my shadow. Medication helps, a spinal cord stimulator helps, but the pain is always there, always burning, always stinging and pounding. It can get worse sometimes when I get a spasm of pain. Imagine getting stabbed in the neck with salt water being poured onto you. It’s like that. It can send me hurdling to the ground gasping in pain, swearing up a storm, and crying. This immediately deletes the thought of being able to carry on with the current task such as work, walking, enjoying a sunny day, swimming (which incidentally is risky now that I think about it), etc. Then it depends on how many shocks there are to the system. Sometimes I have to go to the hospital, other times I need to simply lie down for a while until it settles down. One time it happened on a basketball court during a college game in front of the audience.
I am afraid of the stairs because of my PTSD. I envision the trauma I endured over and over. Just seeing the stairs, or thinking about them (like writing this blog) causes my stomach to feel like it wants to eject out of my body with a rocket attached. If a building does not have an elevator and I need to get to an upper floor sometimes I have to walk away. Other times, I have to slowly, very carefully, make my way up the stairs, one slow step at a time grasping onto someone and/or the rail.