Looking for views on the differences between physical and mental disabilities — Scope | Disability forum
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Looking for views on the differences between physical and mental disabilities

lis_seed Community member Posts: 2 Listener
Hi I have adhd with suspected autism and ocd (long waiting lists) as well as mental health conditions and I was wondering if anybody has any comments on the differences between physical and mental disabilities in terms of life experience :)


  • janer1967
    janer1967 Community member Posts: 21,964 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi and welcome to the community Feel free to join in or ask any questions 

    I have physical disabilities so only have experience of being a physically disabled person 
  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Community member Posts: 15,465 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @lis_seed - welcome to the community, & thank you for joining. You pose an interesting question. As far as I can see, both mental & physical disabilities can share similarities, in that both can equally disable a person, & impact on their life experience.
    Like Jane, my disability is physical, yet many with a physical disorder also have mental health issues, so I think both need to be understood. What do you think?
  • Cher_Alumni
    Cher_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 5,741 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @lis_seed and a warm welcome to the community from me.  How are you today?  What a thought-provoking question you ask! 

    Speaking from personal experience, my physical and mental health conditions were very much intertwined.  I had the symptoms of Crohn's Disease from around 9 years old (in hindsight) and struggled through school up until being diagnosed at the age of 18.  The challenge of keeping up a 'pretence' of being fine, not having appropriate support and otherwise feeling really very ill, led to the onset of anxiety during my GCSE's and after.  This is not to suggest other people's physical/mental impairments overlap, but in my case the two were definitely interlinked and mutually exacerbated the symptoms experienced. 

    Thankfully, some 20 odd years later, I've learnt how to manage both when I realise they're beginning to flare - seeking help at the first sign of a downturn and being honest with my care team.  But I agree, both impairments have at times i) disabled me,  ii) impacted my day to day life and also, iii) impacted the decisions I've made in life, pathways I've taken and how I see the world and relate to others in it.

    I'd love to know what you think.  How have you found having neurodiverse impairments and other mental health conditions?

    Just to let you know, I've amended your thread title to reflect your question and moved your thread to our 'Disabled People' category for others to spot and contribute to. 
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  • Wini1960
    Wini1960 Community member Posts: 130 Pioneering
    lis_seed@ Hi in my own experience physical and mental health issues tend to be parallel. My mental health issues started first and because i became quite sedentary i put on weight from medication and then when i felt better i became obsessed with exercise and one day after my excessive gym routine i couldn't move for over a week. After bothering my GP on a lot of occasions i was referred to a Rheumatologist and what came back from all the tests was degenerative lumbar spine, impigment in both shoulders affecting the bursa in my shoulders also sacrilitus. Also i have a long term condition after suffering a pulmonary embolism and Deep vein thromboembolism in which i take warfarin now for the rest of my life.
  • deb74
    deb74 Community member Posts: 812 Pioneering
    I have physical and mental health problems. It depends from day to day and what situation I am in but I would say my mental health problems tend to cause me more problems than my physical problems
  • Lisatho11987777
    Lisatho11987777 Scope Member Posts: 5,911 Disability Gamechanger
    I have physical and on and off mental health problems both have an impact on my life and the way I live I felt like I was going round in circles at one point but now I am good I have learnt to live with both 
  • lis_seed
    lis_seed Community member Posts: 2 Listener
    Thank you so much all for being so kind - it’s really reassuring :). I have struggled with mental disabilities for a long time and am now being tested for physical disabilities and was worried I had something much worse coming however all of your kind words have helped me feel much calmer. 

    It’s an interesting one because often people can’t see mental disabilities and it lowers the chance of discrimination out and about so I guess there’s a difference there. 
  • Tori_Scope
    Tori_Scope Scope Campaigns Posts: 12,465 Disability Gamechanger
    I'm glad you're feeling calmer @lis_seed :) Do you have any specific concerns about being diagnosed with a physical health condition? 

    Yes, there's an interesting discussion to be had about less visible conditions. Although having an invisible impairment might mean people don't notice that you're disabled straight away, this can be a negative thing too. Some people with less visible conditions find that others don't believe that they're disabled, or struggle to access the services and support they need. Scope recently worked with ITV on an advert raising awareness of less visible conditions, which you might like to watch. 
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  • DebsBennett
    DebsBennett Community member Posts: 1 Listener
    This is a really interesting topic for me and this is my first post. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in my early twenties. I managed it pretty well and had a successful career. Whenever I became unwell, however, there was a general feeling that I allowed myself to be ill.

    Two years ago, I developed an autoimmune condition which caused significant physical disabilities and resulted in me losing my job. However, people were much more sympathetic towards my physical struggles than they ever were with my mental ill health.

    Some of my physical disabilities are invisible but still appear to attract more empathy than my mental health problems.
  • rubin16
    rubin16 Community member Posts: 278 Pioneering
    I have Autism, Schizophrenia, crohn's disease and found alot of people are nasty when it comes to disabilities, so much so I have a general fear of other people. When I was a teen at school I had the nickname "psycho" and would get beat up, spat on, salted (people would pour salt packets in my hair) and generally make my life hell. I was even dragged and forced after walking home from school to walk with these lads who made me walk miles with them who then made me eat horse manure on the way and perform sexual actitivies on them. This was all becuase I was different.

    Nowadays I hear voices and get bad anxiety when I'm out, if I'm in a shop I get told people are looking at me or they think i'm a freak, i'm a psycho and they're going to harm me. Not forgetting the bright lights and noise it becomes unbearable and the only time I feel safe is alone in my room.

    Most of the time I wish I was never born, as the world it too evil to live in normally and I can't seem to trust anyone apart from family.


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