A message posted on Facebook by a 24-year-old named Ste Walker has captured hearts and clicks. After being scolded for using disabled parking spaces and bathrooms, he decided it was time for him to speak up.
"People are too quick to judge these days, just because I look normal and speak normal, that doesn't mean I don't have a major disability," said Walker, who is from the UK and has been living with Crohn's disease, a chronic, inflammatory bowel disease.
Crohn's causes inflammation -- irritation or swelling -- in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and typically affects the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine. But Crohn's can affect any part of the digestive tract, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. It can be painful, cause severe diarrhea, and lead to weight loss and malnutrition.
For Ste, Crohn's has led to other health complications such as osteoarthritis in his knees from prolonged steroid use, chronic pain syndrome, and anxiety related to extended hospital stays and time away from friends and family. While he may not look "disabled" at a glance, he wants people to know not all illnesses are obvious to a passing stranger. "So stop and think before you speak, think about the struggle I've gone threw just to get out of bed and get dressed and tried to look 'normal,'" he writes.
He posted a selfie wearing a t-shirt and looking like a regular guy alongside a shot of him bare-chested with tubes running from his chest and nose.
He said next time someone says to him, "'Well you look perfectly fine, why are you using that disabled toilet, or parking in that disabled spot, your conning the system,'" he hopes they will stop and consider that maybe he wants to be fine and feel normal, but he can't due to his illness.
"You have no right to judge me just on your perception of me that you can see because you don't no what goes on inside. So stop and think before you speak," he wrote.
He signed off his Facebook message with an apology for such a long post and a smiley emoticon. As of Wednesday evening, the post had received more than 48,000 likes and thousands of comments and shares.
About 600,000 people in the United States suffer from Crohn's, which is typically diagnosed between when a person is in their 20s.