Today is the first day of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, and it has me thinking about thinking about both the visible and invisible aspects of my illnesses. Nearly a year ago now my invisible illnesses became a lot more visible. The pain from my arthritis became so severe I could no longer walk or even stand. I was forced to use a wheelchair for my mobility.
Before the wheelchair (and the walker that came before it), my illness was completely invisible. At the time I found it completely frustrating that no one could see that I was sick. People assumed that what they couldn’t see couldn’t possibly be serious. Sometimes people assumed that what they couldn’t see wasn’t even real. Now I wish I could ditch the wheelchair and still pass myself off as “normal” when I wanted to. I feel like now my first impression always inevitably includes my wheelchair.
But despite this very visible symbol of my illnesses, I feel more invisible than ever. It is very hard to go out in a wheelchair, and I am usually too tired and in too much pain to do so. As a result, I am mostly home-bound. I am literally invisible to the people in my life I used to see in person. Out of sight. Out of mind.
But though I am invisible to most people in the physical world, I am very visible in the virtual world. Through this blog my illness is not invisible at all. It is there for people to see plain as day. Through this blog the invisible becomes visible. Here I can let you see the things that most people can’t.
Here the joint pain, the numbness in my left side of my body, the severe dryness, the low grade fevers, the debilitating fatigue, the pain when I swallow, the nausea, the stomach pain, the rib pain, the muscle weakness, the tremors, the migraines, the involuntary muscle moments, the memory and concentration problems, the seizures, the sleep apnea, and the obsessive compulsive disorder all become visible.
Here too, the emotional toll is no longer invisible. The worry, the loneliness, the anxiety for my future, the grief for how things once were, and the sadness for the friends I’ve lost along the way all become visible.
And I especially hope that lessons I’ve learned, the inner strength I’ve found, the faith in myself, and hope for the future are not invisible here either.
National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week is held annually in September and is a worldwide effort to bring together people who live with invisible chronic illness and those who love them.
A virtual conference in held at www.invisibleillnessweek.com and the blog is updated a few times a day during August and September.
Bloggers are welcome to participate anytime, but are encouraged to unite efforts during August and September to increase awareness online and share their experiences as well as encouragement. A badge is available that says you are blogging during the actual awareness week.
Start a blog on Novel Patient Community today and blog about your chronic illness in support of the awareness week!