Invisible Illness Awareness Week 2020
Invisible illness is an umbrella term to all illnesses- mental and physical- that are not visible from the outside.
Chronic illness isn’t always visible.
Chronic illness isn’t always wheelchairs, hospital beds, ports, picc lines, and visible feeding tubes.
There aren’t always scars, or medical devices.
Sometimes, chronic illness can be invisible to everyone except the person suffering.
These types of illnesses are endless, yet they are always looked down upon.
Just because we don’t have a wheelchair or walker doesn’t mean we can’t take the handicapped spot.
People who are not chronically ill will see you walking and smiling, talking and laughing, reading and writing; and they’ll think:
“Oh, they’re fine. They’re not actually sick.”
“They’re just looking for attention.”
“It’s all in their head.”
These comments, whether they are addressed directly to us, or our family, can be extremely hurtful.
Chronic and invisible illness warriors often feel invalidated because of the way they are treated by others.
Something we would all like you to know is that:
We are not hypochondriacs,
We are not attention seekers,
We are not faking it,
We are sick.
Another way we feel invalidated is
“But you did it yesterday…” To that, I respond “Just because I could yesterday, doesn’t mean I can today.” Invisible illnesses fluctuate from day to day, week to week, and even hour to hour in some cases.
Chronic and invisible illness warriors often suffer from fatigue.
Putting on makeup, brushing our teeth and hair, and getting dressed often take up half the day’s energy.
This means that when you see us looking normal, but taking breaks or relaxing, we are not being lazy, we are just resting because it took a lot of effort for us to look normal.
The way we look is not an indicator of how we feel.
I have noticed that when I had my NJ feeding tube, people treated me differently. They treated me like I was sick. Like I needed support.
And it was true, I did.
But, now that I have feeding tubes in my stomach that no one sees, I am treated like I’m normal by strangers and acquaintances.
My family and friends still support me and my recovery, but those who do not know of my struggles anymore due to a lack of visibility, act like I shouldn’t have the handi-capped spot. Like I should exercise more, like I should eat more vegetables.
Little do they know, these things are very difficult, if not impossible for me to do.
To conclude, the most important thing I want you to get out of this post is that
Invisible Illness warriors matter.
We are important.
We are valid.
And we are warriors, whether you see it or not.
- Juliet Inforzato
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