Invisible Illnesses

Put simply any illness that is not clearly visible is an invisible illness. Because these illnesses are not immediately apparent to an onlooker, the sufferer is often met with scepticism and in some cases hostility. While awareness is slowly being generated about invisible illnesses, I feel that there should be more support forums/groups as every little shred of support is invaluable - whether it is in-person counselling or even online internet support.

Invisible illnesses include but are not limited to the following: autism, anxiety and panic disorders, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), migraine, bipolar disorder, chronic pain/fatigue, Crohn's disease, fibromyalgia, arthritis, palindromic rheumatism, lupus, migraines, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, depression, cancer, epilepsy, chronic dizziness  and various other health conditions. There are many that I have not listed here and there would be many that I am not even aware of. Most people with any of these listed medical conditions may look and act perfectly healthy but the underlying symptoms and pain are very much there. It is just that they do not show up outwardly. And this very reason leaves people being very unsympathetic to their condition.

I have been living with migraine for more than 2 decades now. I was diagnosed with Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo(BPPV) around 9 years back and also developed Tinnitus at the same time. With all these conditions I usually do not show any outward symptoms but all them affect my daily life. Even something as simple or ordinary as a fast head movement can result in a spinning sensation which lasts anywhere from a few seconds to several agonising minutes. I just dread those spinning sensations. Last year I was diagnosed with Palindromic Rheumatism. The year preceding the diagnosis was a difficult period for me because of the dismissing and unbelieving attitude of many people I came across. I came across statements like "You are exaggerating your symptoms; everyone goes through it.", "You are responsible for this. You do not eat/exercise enough." and the most ridiculous one - "You are making it up. It is all in your head." When the diagnosis was out, I was finally relieved. Now I am working with my Rheumatologist to find the best possible course of treatment for my condition. Auto-immune conditions usually do not just target one function/system in the body but can affect many different organs. At present the main symptoms I have is swelling of some joints, pain, joint stiffness, loss of grip in my hand and a warm sensation around the effected joints. Apart from this I have to put up with itching, body rashes, giddiness, nausea, shortness of breath and extreme fatigue(even if I do nothing). It is a daily struggle. I do not feel well on the inside but I try to be happy and upbeat. I like positivity, so I try to maintain that attitude and smile a lot. I try to do things that make me happy. I blog. I cook. I spend time with my family. I go for walks whenever I can.

My family has been my greatest support. My parents and my husband keep doing things that make my life easier. I have also joined a few online Rheumatic forums. The advise offered by the members is very valuable. I have also had a few online friends(whom I have never met in real life) who are in the same boat as me offering me excellent suggestions. All this has been of immense help me - both in terms of treatment knowledge and the emotional support. And now I wish to do my bit to create awareness about invisible illnesses - so I will be writing more such posts. It is the least I can do to educate those who do not know about invisible illnesses.

As I end the post, all I would like to say is - Do not judge a book by its cover. Do not categorise a person based on how someone looks externally. Keep an open mind and if some you know has an invisible illness try to empathise rather than criticise.


 

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