Every day around lunchtime, when her colleagues breezed out the door, Catherine Brooks slipped into the sick bay, hoping not to be noticed. Her legs were aching by now, her eyelids felt heavy.
Her secret has never been visible. With glossy hair and a knock-out smile, this young lawyer looks a picture of health. What you can’t see are the pins and needles, the muscles contracting, the effort it takes for her to walk.
There are differing degrees of multiple sclerosis, the most widespread neurological disease among people aged 20-40. Ms Brooks felt more comfortable keeping her disability firmly “in the closet” when in the company of co-workers.
“The hours were very, very long … lawyers generally work hard and party hard, so I didn’t want to be excluded from anything,” Ms Brooks said.
“To get through the day, I would need sneak off to revitalise myself for the afternoon. I didn’t want my diagnosis to limit the opportunities that might come my way.”