My name is Rachel and I the owner an invisible illness. Actually a few of them.
Since this week (Sept 26th – Oct 2nd) is invisible illness awareness week I thought what better topic for my blog than explaining this term to y’all?
First off, What is an invisible illness? Well if you google “define invisible illness” you will get a link to a really long winded answer on a Wikipedia page and it will read similar to this: Chronic illnesses and conditions that significantly impair normal activities of daily living. In the United States, 96% of people with chronic medical conditions show no outward signs of their illness, and 10% experience symptoms that are considered disabling.
It goes on for a while and throws some statics and stuff in there and gets so super complicated and boring that I nearly fell asleep. I don’t know who wrote that but I bookmarked it for the next time I have insomnia. Sheesh. I don’t know who wrote it but the certinanly weren’t doing the community any favors!
An easy definition that isn’t so complicated that I use on a regular basis is an invisible illness is when I look like I am healthy but I actually have a disease or disorder that effects my everyday life.
Now these disorders can be psychological or emotional, physical, a pain condition, autoimmune or other various types of chronic disorders.
The easiest way to think of an invisible illness is that we are really good at dress up. Our clothes, hair and some make up work wonders to hide what we are going through.
We are also excellent performers. We will often fake being well to not worry our loved ones or to not draw attention to ourselves and suffer in silence. Why? Because we don’t want our loved ones to see our pain. We don’t want the public to see our suffering. We want so badly to grasp a normal day and hold it close and never let it go that we will push ourselves past our limits for just a small taste of what it’s like to experience what normal people our age do.
I often wear my favorite lipstick and dress my best when I feel my worst. I’m often in the most pain and feeling the most symptoms.
You know that saying, looks can be deceiving? It was written with us in mind. ….Okay it really wasn’t but you get my point right?
The thing I’ve found that is harder than the disorders themselves is facing ableism or the discrimination in favor of able-bodied people. This is still an ongoing, largely widespread issue. I cannot count the times I have had people tell me that my use of a cane or the in- store wheelchair was because I am fat and lazy. I have even been assaulted because of my use of that in store wheelchair and the woman’s assessment of my need for it.
Unfortunately this is NOT uncommon. I have heard the stories of people accusing service dogs of being fake, handicap parking placard users being harassed because they look like they aren’t disabled etc etc etc.
But the simple fact is you don’t know someone’s situation by just looking at them. Believe me if the disability aids were not needed we would NOT use them. Why would we? They aren’t glamorous. They aren’t a fashion statement. We are just trying to make our lives a bit easier and accomplish whatever task it is that we need to do.
The lesson for this week: no matter what someone looks like, you don’t know what struggle they are facing.
Have a magical week and as always I’m on Instagram as @spooniecorn