Posted by: seattledizzygroup | October 31, 2015

Understanding Invisible Illness

“Invisible” Illness Isn’t Really Invisible If You Look Closely Enough

Nearly 1 in 2 people have a chronic health condition in the U.S. and about 96% of those people are suffering silently with an “invisible” illness (that does not have obvious visible signs).  For example, about 74% of Americans with severe impairments do not use a wheelchair, cane, crutches, or walker. (For more information, see:  www.invisibledisabilities.org and www.invisibleillnessweek.com).

Unfortunately, people living with an “invisible” illness such as a disabling vestibular or balance disorder are often misunderstood and stigmatized by society, including being derogatorily perceived as not sick, overreacting, exaggerating or faking symptoms, lazy, drunk, unintelligent, etc.  Though not always obvious to the onlooker, “invisible” symptoms of chronic vestibular dysfunction such as dizziness, imbalance, and fatigue may greatly limit a person’s day-to-day activity and negatively impact their overall quality of life.  For example, debilitating vestibular symptoms can significantly decrease the ability of a person to perform activities of daily living (such as bathing, dressing, or simply getting around inside the home) or to participate in social activity. (For more information, see: http://vestibular.org/understanding-vestibular-disorder).

Too frequently, people judge someone with an “invisible” illness by only a quick, superficial glimpse and make incorrect, negative assumptions. However, to truly understand the challenges and impacts of an “invisible” illness, you need to walk alongside someone and take care to notice how deeply their life has been changed as a result.  With closer observation, you can see that someone suffering from a disabling condition is faced with having to adapt to a “new normal” with many health struggles and various life-altering limitations.

It is important not to make someone with an “invisible” illness feel like they need to prove to you the degree of their impairment.  Regardless of your personal perception or feelings, one of the best things that you can say to support someone with an “invisible” chronic illness is simply “I believe you.”

These articles offer valuable insight regarding “invisible” illness as well as helpful tips for living with chronic illness and suggestions for loved ones:

Invisible Illness or Chronic Illness? What’s the Difference?

What is an Invisible Disability?

10 Ways to Make Your Invisible Illness Visible

Chronic Illness Facts

20 Tips for Living Well with Chronic Pain and Illness

14 Tips from 14 Years Sick

9 Things I’ve Learned Through 20 Years of Chronic Illness

7 Ways to Cope with Chronic Illness

Impact of Chronic Illness Upon Relationships and Social Activity

How to Cope with Unsolicited Advice When You Have an Invisible Chronic Illness

What Those with Chronic Pain or Illness DO Want to Hear

10 Things You Should Say to Someone with A Chronic Illness

15 Things Not to Say to Someone With A Chronic Illness or Invisible Illness

What Those with Chronic Pain or Illness DON’T Want to Hear

Part 2: What the Chronically Ill DON’T Want to Hear

The Spoon Theory

Help Raise Awareness for “Invisible” Illness

Invisible Illness Awareness Week

Invisible Disabilities Week

#InvisibleNoMore 

© Copyright 2015, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.

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