There are many ways a person can be sick without it showing on the outside. Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, and mental health issues like depression and anxiety are just a few of the invisible illnesses that many people deal with every day. However, just because these illnesses are not immediately visible to others, does not mean that they should be forgotten and overlooked.
1 “You don’t look sick”
Not all illness is visible from the outside, many illnesses are completely internal, such as Crohn’s and mental illness. Just because someone doesn’t ‘look sick’, doesn’t mean they are feeling 100%.
- “Everybody gets exhausted.”
While the current pace of modern life is tiring, there is a distinct difference between being tired and being sick. Sickness can take a lot out of you and even mental illnesses can have a dramatic effect on energy levels.
- “You’ll feel better tomorrow.”
A lack of understanding drives this statement. ‘Invisible’ illnesses will not be made better by “a good night’s sleep”. Some ‘invisible’ illnesses are long term and a lot of people must learn how to live with them for their entire lives.
- “I wish I had time to take a nap.”
Debilitating fatigue is not falling asleep on the sofa after Sunday dinner. Tiredness is one of the hardest invisible symptoms to explain, often being wrongly associated with laziness.
- “Push through it and you’ll be ok.”
That is not at all how this works. Especially when working through common daily tasks feels like wading through treacle. Consider asking how you can help rather than making off-the-cuff statements.
- “Have you tried doing this…”
When it comes to any illness, there are those friends and family members that instantly become a doctor when the subject arises. The likelihood is that we’ve already had all the information we need from our GP’s and we don’t need unqualified advice.
- “You need to get out more”
Making and keeping plans whilst ill isn’t easy. Friendships can be tough with an invisible illness, but they can take on a deeper quality that doesn’t rely on “getting out more”. Socialising can seem a lot more tiring when you feel sick and just the thought of ‘getting out more’ can make you feel worse.
- “You can’t use the disabled toilet, that’s for people with disabilities”
Often you can feel self-conscious using facilities reserved for disabled people, despite the need for them. People often don’t understand that not every disability manifests itself in the same way.
- You constantly have to think of an excuse
We shouldn’t have to think of an excuse whenever we are too tired or feeling unwell. We shouldn’t have to feel the need to explain why we don’t want to meet up or why we’ve changed our minds last minute about going for that drink.
- “There’s people that have it a lot worse”
It’s not a competition as to who is more sick than whom. Every illness, no matter how severe or how visible, should be treated with the same sensitivity.
- “Your life is great…what do you have to be sad about?”
Living with an invisible illness isn’t easy but comments like this make it harder. Having to justify yourself constantly to overcome ignorance only adds to any stress. Depression is a sickness just like any other illness and those that suffer with it will know that there doesn’t have to be a specific reason or event that has made us feel this way.
- It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still have an invisible illness
Young people are often unaware of hidden illness, which makes explaining and understanding it even more difficult. We assume that young people are generally healthy and carefree, however there are more and more young people being diagnosed with mental health issues than ever before.
- You can end up making yourself more sick
All these daily battles wear you down. Often we push ourselves too hard to comply with preconceived expectations and this in turn can make recovery longer.
By Paige Joanna Calvert
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