How do you know if someone if sick? Do they look different? Do they fit a criteria on a checklist? Do they need a wheelchair? No. In most cases, you can be looking someone right in the eye and know nothing about their state of health, so why in 2014, do people still get judged by how they look?
There are so many debilitating medical conditions that cannot be seen, that people suffer with everyday. People who have to struggle to get through their day, telling themselves they can do it, that they can improve, that they are not going to let their illness beat them or control their lives!
Multiple Sclerosis, Asthma, Cystic Fibrosis, Endometriosis, Depression, Arthritis, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Cancer….. to name only a few. All of these are invisible illnesses, until they reach the point when they are beginning to take over the body. People with an invisible illness face a lifetime of judgment, stereotyping and trying to convince people that they really are ill. This, in itself, is a challenge. I am a great believer of positivity improving the mind, body and soul and most people I know with an invisible illness always try to remain positive, to be strong and carry on with their lives, even when they know that they are slowly losing control of their bodies.
BUT, when they have to explain to people that they are sick, that they need a little understanding or support, the illness suddenly becomes very real again. They have to play the ‘part’ of the patient – a grimace, a gasp, a limp, placing a hand on the affected area as if it will help… and I guarantee you, everyone with an invisible illness has heard “but you don’t look sick!” and when they do, believe me, their heart sinks as they have to explain it all over again.
The amount of people who glare, judge or even make comments as someone places a blue disabled badge on their car and walks away without a wheelchair! ‘They must be faking it!’. I am surprised and quite disheartened at how many people still act this way in this day and age.
I only hope that as people begin to learn more about various conditions surrounding them, that they open up their minds and try to understand what people might be going through. For all you know, you may be sitting next to someone right now who looks completely healthy but you have no idea how much effort it has taken them to get themselves up and out to see the world today. You don’t know how much their pulse is racing, their breathing is laboured or their bones are aching as they sit there with a smile on their face. You don’t realise how completely exhausted they will be when they get home and retire to their beds as their body urges them to please rest!
But for a day, they managed to look ‘normal’, they could pretend that they weren’t sick and it was worth all the effort to be able to laugh and joke with you and enjoy your company!
Sending love, compassion and understanding to everyone with an invisible illness. May you continue to find the strength to get through your day with a smile. xxxxxx