Travelling by tube and sometimes train can be an anxious experience when suffering from panic attacks. Sometimes you just want to sit down and be able to breathe. But what if the tube is packed and you cant? Anxiety is an invisible illness and no one knows you are suffering.
what can i do?
Tfl brought out the ‘baby on board’ badges some years ago so that mums-to-be could wear them on public transport. This way its obvious that you are with child and hopefully someone will be gracious enough to offer you a seat. But invisible illnesses such as panic attack disorder, anxiety, epilepsy, MS etc are not obvious and so how do you ask for a seat without giving some stranger the run down of your medical history?
After seeing someone mention it on twitter and then came across this blog which explained how you could apply for a ‘Please offer me a seat’ badge from tfl. Its based purely on trust no evidence is needed to prove your illness just like with the baby badge. They did a trial last year which proved successful and rolled out the scheme this year although I had not heard about it. You are sent a badge and a card. If a member of staff or anyone really approaches you to ask why you are sitting in the seat reserved for elderly or pregnant women you are permitted to just show them the card which explains that ‘not all impairments and conditions are visible’. No explanation needed which prevents embarrassment all round.
I have used mine once when I attempted the tube last month after a series of panic attacks. I was a bit hesitant about showing it on display but then when I needed to take my coat off I just went with it. A couple of people looked but as its the same colour as the baby one, I wondered if they were just thinking I was pregnant!
Am hoping that my panic attacks will be a thing of the past again (crossing fingers not had one for a while) but I will take it with me whenever I go on a tube somewhere just in case.
Its a great idea as long as its not abused. Very simple to apply for one which you can do via the tfl website here. Let me know if you have one or seen anyone with one and wondered what it meant would be interested to know?