“What are you suffering from? Never heard of it.”
“You are faking it. You look totally healthy to me.”
“It is all in your head.”
“You are just finding excuses for not working.”
“You are being lazy. That’s all”
“You are such an attention seeker.”
“Start concentrating your energy on something useful.”
“You don’t look sick to me.”
“How can you be in pain all the time?”
“You are too young to be sick.”
“Everybody has bad days in their life, you are no special.”
These are some of the sentences a person suffering from chronic illness or chronic pain comes across daily.
Reason:- These conditions are not apparent or visible physically for the other person to understand. They are just Invisible.
What are they?
Invisible Illness (aka Invisible Disability or Hidden Disability)
As the name suggests, are the disabilities which are not apparent immediately. They are usually not visible to the naked eyes. But, the person suffering from it, very much understands the true existence of it. They can present with varying symptoms such as debilitating pain, fatigue, dizziness, weakness, cognitive dysfunctions (brain fog), learning differences and mental disorders, as well as hearing and vision impairments. It is a part of their lives on a daily basis and significantly impair normal activities of daily living.
Some examples of invisible illnesses are:
- Chronic Pain (Fibromyalgia, Myofascial pain, etc.)
- Allergies and Food In-tolerances
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Depression and Mental Illness
- Digestive Disorders (IBS, colitis, Celiac, etc.)
- Autoimmune conditions (Lupus, Multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s disease, etc.)
- Neurological Diseases (Trigeminal Neuralgia, CRPS, etc.)
- Lyme Disease
- Heart Conditions
- Diabetes and other Blood Sugar Issues
Why is it important to understand them?
Most of us don’t suffer from an invisible illness and hence, are fortunate. But, every body falls ill at some point of time with cold and cough, fever, stomach ache, muscle pain, etc. Many have felt a little low for a few days due to bad performance in exams, break up, not getting a promotion. Right? And what are our options, we go to a doctor, rest for a few days, take some pain killers or antibiotics respectively and get back to our life. The so-called understandable “Sick Leave“. Everybody around you understands you, cares for you and nobody judges you.
But what if that cold and cough, stomach ache or muscle pain just stayed and never goes away? What if it just starts to get worse and keeps on getting even more worse? What if that 2-3 days of feeling low turns into depression and you just can’t fight your way out? What will you do then? Those minor symptoms of yours turn out to be something chronic, with no cure, and you have to deal with it everyday through out your life? The amount of anxiety you would have realising that you are not getting any better. That irritating pain stopping you from doing daily activities. You are stuck for eternity gulping those pain killers, antidepressants or antibiotics everyday, still you are not getting any better.
- How will you explain it to your family, friends, and colleagues?
- How many leaves would you be given from work?
- Will your boss give you all the sick leaves you need or will just fire you?
- Would your colleagues and other people around you understand your situation, specially when you look healthy physically ?
- How will you make the people really understand?
- What will you do when everybody starts calling you lazy or crazy?
- Would your friends still hang out with you?
- Will it create problems in your relationships, both personal and professional?
- How will you cope out of it, when nobody understands you?
These are the issues a person suffering from an invisible illness goes through everyday. Yet, they keep on moving ahead in their life tolerating all the pain and the trouble surrounding it. Just imagine yourself in their shoes for once and try to feel how they feel. May be then you will be able to understand them better.
I hope this post has improved your understanding towards Invisible Illness and next time you would think twice before making any rude statement towards a sufferer.
2 thoughts on “Invisible Illness – Why is it important to understand them?”
Very well written post, hope the “healthy” people will try to consider with little empathy after reading this . Patients with chronic invisible illnesses don’t need sympathy, they just need to be understood.
Thank you ma’am and you are correct. We just need to be understood and not sympathised.