Some examples of invisible illnesses are:
Unfortunately, people often judge others by what they see, concluding that they are either capable or incapable based on the way they look. It may, therefore, be difficult to understand someone who “looks” fine, but acts incapable. All too often judgments are made that the patient cannot be ill, because they do not look sick, just like in the example in the opening paragraph of this blog. The life of an invisible illness sufferer is riddled with what may feel like a barrage of insensitive encounters and whisperings. Comments are often made as to why they are often absent from the job or even tardy, why they no longer call or are available for social activities with friends, why they often seems short tempered, withdrawn or depressed, or why they lay in bed or the couch so often. The invisible illness sufferer is often labeled as lazy while disease wreaks havoc inside their body. When trying to explain their disability, sufferers are frequently met with the response, “but you look so good.” This is, perhaps, one of the most frustrating things to hear for those who suffer with these invisible illnesses. Unsolicited advice on how to get better only adds to the exasperation.
Here is a great graphic on what not to say to someone with a chronic illness and gives insight to the ways in which they feel misjudged.
For those that are fortunate to live without an invisible illness, it’s difficult to understand, relate. But we all have had colds, flus, minor distractions, aches and pains, maybe we have even been a tad depressed for a few days, right? Our options to fix our illness might include taking anti-inflammatories, perhaps a soothing bath, a long walk, some choice cold medications, even try to simply get some rest, and withdraw from the world for a day or two, or up to a week if necessary. No one judges us for that and many may even empathize for the few days we feel lousy and under the weather. But like most of the healthy population, we are back on our feet and moving on with our lives in no time.
But what if that cold or flu never went away? What if that pain and fatigue never went away or even got worse? What if that period of blues turned into a full-blown depression and couldn’t find a way to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel? What then? Imagine the anxiety and depression you may feel knowing that what you have was chronic, had no cure, and that it could potentially be a part of your life forever. Now, envision trying to explain this new painful reality to your family, friends, and co-workers in a way that they would understand when you look perfectly fine on the outside.
Spreading awareness about invisible illnesses, such as lupus, is the only way to create a more accepting, understanding world with medical and social validation for those who suffer. Please help spread the word by participating in our online community.
A great link for resources and information about invisible illness: http://www.invisibledisabilities.org/
Information provided on this blog is of a general nature and is not intended to take the place of a physician's advice. It is vital that persons diagnosed with, or suspected of having, an autoimmune disease consult with their physician or with the appropriate division at a major teaching hospital, to assure proper evaluation, treatment and interpretation of information contained on this site.