It’s not like me to be extremely serious, I know, but there’s something out there that many people don’t really understand or even knows exists. I’m not a great expert in the field outside of simply being a person affected, but regardless I feel it is important to open up this discussion. And it’s something that really needs to be addressed.
Just because a person doesn’t look sick doesn’t mean that they aren’t.
On behalf of all those who suffer but may not look it, I’m going to talk about invisible disability. This may or may not be a statement you are familiar with— it is, in a nutshell, the idea that while it may not be physically visible, a person’s disease or disability can still exist and is just as real as someone whose disease is visible. You do not have to have a pronounced physical deformity in you leg to have trouble walking. You do not have to have a terrible cough, lose a lot of weight, or really anything at all to feel chronic, extreme fatigue.
An invisible disability is a broad category, and it can be various mental health conditions to things like pain and fatigue. But people with visible disabilities— say, someone in a wheelchair— can also have invisible disabilities— the medicine that said person in a wheelchair takes for their chronic pain condition makes them feel sick or groggy.
For people who have the luxury of being healthy all their lives, those who do not personally feel the daily— hourly— struggles of having a debilitating condition regardless of its manifestation, this can be hard to understand. It is perfectly understandable to not know, and you are, in fact, lucky to not know. Which is why I’m writing about this now.
The instigation for this post is that this month— May— is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. I have personally struggled in a world that has a lot of people who don’t understand the concept of invisible disability. In fact, I have struggled in a world that has trouble understanding that I could even be sick in the first place. It’s terrible to feel that pressure. It’s terrible to feel like everyone believes you a liar because they simply can’t comprehend what’s going on in your body.
I’ll be making a series of posts about invisible disability in conjunction with Lyme Disease Awareness Month. My posts aren’t just going out to the Lyme community, they’re going out to the world. They are meant to be read by everyone, healthy, struggling with disease and disability, young, old. We are all members of a community that encompasses all sorts, and we all need to be aware of the impact we make on each others’ lives daily, and comprehending invisible/visible disabilities will help us do that. So please take a few minutes to read these posts. People with disabilities often struggle to live in a world that is not engineered for us, and every bit of understanding can make our lives a little bit better.