Imagine having an Invisible Illness. Imagine having an illness that is unable to be seen. That is ‘Out of Sight’, ‘Hidden’ and ‘Not Visible’. Imagine having an Invisible Pain. Imagine a pain that is SO real, and SO terrible, and SO all-consuming that you feel entirely wretched and miserable and distressed. BUT, that this is a pretty big BUT, a pretty gigantic BUT actually … BUT … nobody can see your illness, your pain. It is in fact, Invisible.
Imagine that you experience Fatigue. You experience a tiredness that is like nothing you ever imagined. You feel weak and you feel exhausted. Both your mind and your body. You have no motivation. You have no enthusiasm. You have no motivation and no enthusiasm for anything. Nothing.
Because they can’t be seen, it makes it difficult for people to understand or empathise.
The invisible nature of the invisible illness or the invisible symptoms of the invisible illness means that the sufferer, or the individual who is living with the symptoms may find it hard to explain their symptoms as they can’t be seen they are not visible and therefore the general public are left largely unaware. Imagine that.
When we talk about Invisible Illnesses we are talking about conditions like:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME)
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
It is important to remember that Invisible Illnesses can be physical and mental, so they also refer to Mental Health conditions like:
- Worry / Anxiety
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
People who have an Invisible Illnesses, whether physical or mental, feel guilty because no-one can see or understand their illness. If you have an Invisible Illness you might feel guilty despite the fact that you have done nothing wrong. You feel guilty for having an illness, a Chronic Condition. Guilt therefore is another silent and invisible side-effect of living with a Chronic Illness.
There is the guilt of feeling like a burden to others, that you are a disappointment. Chronic Illness deprives you or can deprive you of your independence in many ways, and this then eats away at your self-esteem, which has most likely already taken quite a pounding, reinforcing the fear that you are a disappointment. You are constantly haunted by that nagging doubt that frightful, distressing fear that you are not ‘Good Enough’, all of which is reinforced by the fact that you look ‘Fine’, that you look ‘OK’, better than OK, you probably look ‘good’. You don’t feel ‘Good Enough’ and therefore you don’t feel that you deserve to be loved or valued or supported. This is really a frightful cycle to get caught in.
And as if all that isn’t bad enough, you have a strong sense of fear. Fear that people won’t believe you. Fear that people don’t believe you. Fear that your condition will get worse, and the speed that that deterioration may happen at. You are scared. You are terribly terribly scared. And in your fear and guilt and pain and fatigue you feel lonely. Because even people who have the same chronic condition as you experience it, or may experience it is an entirely different way. You are ultimately the only person who knows and understands how you feel.
Quite often these Invisible Illnesses are not life-threatening, but they certainly can be Chronic Conditions, which can definitely and drastically affect the quality of life. These conditions can be 24/7 365 days a year.