What You Should Be (But Probably Aren't) Thinking About Invisible Illnesses
I had lived with this girl on my hall for one year. We hiked together to the farmer's market, she signed the "Welcome Back" poster on my door after I returned from being hospitalized and she constantly "mothered" me. Yet, even as she saw me whither away from celiac disease, she never mentioned that she battles her own invisible, chronic illness: systematic scleroderma. She never mentioned that it nearly killed her - as the excess collagen scleroderma causes can be fatal if left untreated - and how she still takes pills that allow her to look and act like a "normal" teenager.
It's about what you should be thinking about invisible illnesses - but probably aren't.
As someone with celiac disease and fibromyalgia, I sometimes get caught in the trap of feeling like I have a different - correction: better - perspective on invisible illnesses. I know what they can feel like, after all! But this Facebook post reminded me that having an invisible illness doesn't give me a "radar" for those experiencing similar medical difficulties.
|Can you pick out the girls with a chronic illness? Me neither!|
What if, instead of assuming the overweight man you see sitting on the front porch every day is lazy, you consider that he may have chronic fatigue syndrome and can barely get out of bed? What if that "skinny white chick" actually orders non-fat milk in her latte because she has IBS and too much fat leaves her sick for days? And, on the flip side, what if we stop associating "invisible illness" with negative traits and insurmountable limitations - because we can still kick ass even if our own body kicks its own!
|Amen to that! (Source)|
Nearly every one in two Americans have a chronic illness and 96% of people with an illness have an invisible one. Unless you're the world's biggest social butterfly, you probably won't meet half of those 133 million Americans - or, even if you meet them (or are Facebook friends, in my case) know about their invisible illness.
|Or, in this case, 2/2 Americans!|
Because you never know when someone may be having a harder day than you ever imagined.
Have you ever been surprised by someone revealing an invisible illness? What thoughts do you believe should change about invisible illnesses? Tell me below!
*Also found at Best of the Blogosphere, Totally Terrific Tuesday, Wine'd Down Wednesday, Let's Get Real Friday Party, RunningwithSpoons and Wow Me Wednesday*
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