There are chronic illnesses that can’t be seen by others but still can make a person feel like sh*t. Sufferers of these chronic conditions deal with pain, exhaustion, muscle weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and more “lovely” annoyances. In some cases, what is more annoying is the lack of compassion and support for people who undeniably feel like they are very much alone. Constant accusations of laziness, hypochondria, excuses and outright lies can send a person who already feels desperate into complete despair — feelings of growing depression only seems to magnify the general feeling of CRAP.
Some Invisible Illnesses are diagnosed through blood tests, scans, and fevers, but there are others that even the medical community cannot prove scientifically. Sometimes it is only repeated symptoms that are used to make a diagnosis and even less is known about treatment. Even some doctors label these conditions as “meaningless catch-all phrases” for non-existent illnesses. It’s beyond frustrating when a patient knows that something is wrong and yet no one will even acknowledge it. Well-meaning family members and friends try to be encouraging, but there constant advice to “why don’t you just get to sleep at a decent time” or “get up and move and you’ll feel better” actually feel like pin pricks. Anger just adds to frustration and depression.
Some examples of invisible illnesses are: Allergies and Food Sensitivities; Rheumatoid Arthritis; Cancer; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain; Depression and Mental Illness; Diabetes; Ehlers Danlos Syndrome; Epstein Barr; Headaches; Migraines; Congestive Heart Failure; Lupus; Lyme Disease; Multiple Sclerosis; Osteoporosis; Neurological Diseases; Sjogren’s Syndrome; and more. (thanks to Molly’s Fund and the CDC for help with this list). Chronic diseases are associated with more depression, increased mortality, higher divorce rates, and worsening chronic conditions. The CDC estimates that approximately one out of every two Americans suffer from some degree of chronic disease at some point in his life. Most chronic sufferers do not use any appliances (like canes or braces), but as the condition progresses they may move on to needing these aids.
Everyday life is more difficult for anyone with a disability. The Americans With Disabilities Act does protect the rights of anyone with a known disability, but when that condition is invisible and the patient is doing his or her best to be “normal” and accepted, there is often no such thing as rights. Very often it isn’t mere pride that keeps a person from sharing their confidential health history; “normalcy” is more accepted, hired more often, considered for promotions, and not made to feel like a burden.
Just because someone can’t SEE a disability doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.