Living with a chronic illness can be very challenging. It can be especially taxing and a huge pull on your physical, mental and spiritual health. The most challenging part about living with a chronic illness is the fact that to many, You don’t “look” sick. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said that to me. I’d be rich! Lol. I know people mean well, but having a chronic illness and living with a disability does not have to mean you’re in a wheelchair, using a walking aide, etc. Does it? Sometimes it might, but for others it may not. In my humble opinion, unfortunately, some people (not all) have in their mind that in order to be “sick” you must look like you just got hit by a mack truck and that’s not fair nor is it always the case. Each person is different and the way their specific illness shows up each day will be different.
So what is an Invisible Illness anyway? I’m glad you asked.
According to Wikipedia, ” Invisible disabilities, also known as hidden disabilities or non-visible disabilities, are disabilities that are not immediately apparent, are typically chronic illnesses and conditions that significantly impair normal activities of daily living.
SOME EXAMPLES OF AN INVISIBLE ILLNESS:
- Chronic Lyme Disease**
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome*
- Hashimoto’s Disease
- Crohns Disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
(Those with an asterisk are the illnesses I have)
Although those of us who live with an invisible illness may not appear sick/ill on the outside, on the inside we are going through hell. Yes, I said hell! Pain so debilitating that you can’t get out of the bed or off of the sofa, fatigue that is so tiring and exhaustive that not even a good night’s sleep will help, and emotional stress which can sometimes lead to anxiety and depression. The emotional stress, such as sadness over how your life has changed since being diagnosed and anxiety over how your illness may gotten worse over time. In some cases, the symptoms can be so severe the person becomes disabled and unable to work. In the case where friends or family members think you’re lazy, this makes things even worse. Having a great support system is very important. I am so thankful for all the love and support I get from my family and amazing friends! Sadly, not everyone has this. I personally know of situations where someone with a chronic illness is getting divorced because their spouse thinks they are lazy and just doesn’t want work and help pay the bills, or have family members who make fun of them and speak negatively to and about them while; others have simply been left to fend for themselves without the support of family and friends. Neglected.
Unfortunately, there are those who live with an invisible chronic illness who are not believed when they say they are sick/ill because they don’t “look” the part. This can be very frustrating. Feeling like you have to validate your illness to others can be hard. Trying to convince others that you are indeed sick/ill, arguing with family members who think you’re just lazy can make you feel dismissed and judged, which leads to the person turning inward. It silences us. Silencing someone with chronic illness keeps us from sharing our journey which in turn keeps us from bringing about more awareness. That’s the last thing we want to do!
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Again, living with a chronic illness is difficult and we need your help. If you know someone who has a chronic illness they are most likely suffering in silence or not telling you how they really feel. Here are some practical things you can do to be a support in their lives:
- Believe Them! (So important)
- Check on them (We might not reach out)
- Pray for them
- Offer to pick up their RX
- Offer to bring them a meal
- Offer to take them to their next DR appointment
- Stop by for a visit
- Become an advocate
Thank you so much for stopping by! If you know someone who lives with one or more chronic illness, reach out and see how you might be able to support them. I am 100% certain they will be so glad you did.