What is an invisible illness?
When you first meet someone with fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS) you likely have no idea that person is sick. Same goes for people with arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, eating disorders, depression, endometriosis, diverticulitis ... the list goes on and on.
When someone has the flu, or a cold, or an injury, it's generally pretty obvious by looking at them. We can also see when someone is in a wheelchair or uses a cane, or if they're hauling around an oxygen tank. Those are the images that come to most people's minds when they think of "chronic illness" or "disability." Here are some staggering facts:
- * According to the U.S Census Bureau, 96% of chronic illness is invisible.
- * Nearly half of Americans are living with some sort of chronic illness.
- * 70% of people who commit suicide have uncontrolled pain.
Pain, along with fatigue and brain fog, are invisible symptoms of our invisible illnesses, but that doesn't make them any less debilitating than visible symptoms. National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week (Sept. 8-14) aims to get people to understand that concept.
Check out these links:
National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week
How the Seminars Will Work - Instructions for Invisible Illness Week « Invisible Illness Week Blog
Invisible Illness Week Blog
National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week Conference Room
Can Those with an Invisible Illness Park in the Blue Spots without Others Seeing Red? - Christian Newswire
Top Links to Have Handy this Week! « Invisible Illness Week Blog
As someone with a new diagnosis of fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis, I'm already receiving flack from friends and family who just don't "get it". The Bipolar, they understand. The severe seasonal depression they understand. But the chronic pain and complete lack of energy they are having a hard time accepting.
In my family it was just assumed that I would be taking care of our parents in their old age. Right now I can barely take care of my own day to day activities. A simple thing like taking a shower and getting dressed for the day wipes me out. My PCP has finally decided it was time to refer me to a specialist.
One final note---the fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis came about because I had WLS. So much for making my health better, huh.