By: Saipriya V
We often consider a person to be living with an illness, only when it is apparent. But there are millions of individuals living with illnesses that are invisible. Living with an invisible illness is always challenging and is often different from people who experience a physical injury such as broken arm or a broken leg, where others can actually see the injury and understand the pain experienced by the person (1).
Living with an invisible illness such as fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, mental illness is different because they do not display any physical symptoms of being ill, so often they are judged and think that they make it up (2). This is often painful and challenging and sometimes debilitating, but on top of that, people living with invisible illness may often face skepticism from friends, family, and co-workers since they cannot understand what’s wrong with the person (2).
There is huge stigma attached with invisible illness which often leads to social isolation (2). They frequently get a lack of sympathy not only from the family members but also sometimes from the doctors, who often mistaken for a psychological problems (2,3).
Due to the lack of belief in the illness affects them financially as well. Since some insurance companies , need a definitive definition of illness, people living with invisible illnesses were often denied health and disability benefits, which leaves them to be impoverished as well as crippled (2). Further they undergo stress and anxiety due to their personal, social and financial uncertainties worsen their situation (3).
The bottom line is that everyone with an illness or a disability is different, with varying challenges and needs. Understanding the problems of people living with invisible illnesses and showing them respect and compassion could help them to lead a better life.
1. C. Rusu; M. E. Gee; C. Lagace´; M. Parlor. Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia in Canada: prevalence and associations with six health status indicators. Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada Research, Policy and Practice. Vol 35, No 1, March 2015
2. Wyatt Myers. Invisible Illness: When Others Can’t See Your Pain. 2015
3. Canadian Women’s Health Network. Fibromyalgia