My Invisible Illness is Real

Most people who have an invisible illness (a chronic medical condition that shows no outward signs) have experienced these words at one point and time: "But you don't look sick." These words can be extremely frustrating. I often ask my clients, "What is the most difficult thing for you about having (Crohn's Disease, ulcerative colitis, IBS…)?" I can't tell you how many times I have heard the answers "It's hard to talk to people about what I'm going through because they tell me I don't look sick", or "My family doesn't always believe how bad I feel because I don't look sick", or "I've been told it's all in my head". I could go on. This is one of the difficulties those of us with chronic illnesses need to learn to overcome. The idea that people don't believe us because they cannot see our illness like they can see someone in a wheelchair or a like they can hear a chronic cough can feel isolating and depressing. Sometimes it can make us feel like maybe it really is in our heads. Maybe we aren't really as sick as we think. Instead of giving in to this, we need to fight back! Understand that these people aren't saying these things to be insensitive. They just don't get it. So educate them! Explaining to them what you are going through and why you don't look sick will not only educate them on something they are unfamiliar with, it can be empowering for you too. Also, trust yourself. You know how you feel. You know your illness. You know that it is not in your head. It is real.

Raising Awareness About Lupus

Recently I was contacted by a representative of Healthline, a fantastic medical website which offers information and resources on just about any illness or medical issue you can think of. I highly recommend you check it out. The reason I was contacted was because their goal this year is to raise awareness about Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect any part of a person's body. The representative who contacted me was hoping I would help them raise awareness. Of course, I jumped at the chance. First of all, it is my goal to raise as much awareness about chronic illness and chronic pain as possible. Second of all, I have been dealing with chronic illnesses since I was 18 months old and I know how empowering education and resources can be.

When I was 18 months old, I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. It went into remission when I was six years old and came back when I was fifteen. At that time it was difficult to control my symptoms, so my rheumatologist wanted to test me for Lupus. I remember being so afraid of that word and what it meant. I didn't have a great understanding of what Lupus was. All I knew was what I had seen from a woman on T.V. who had Lupus. She said that she was extremely tired all of the time and that she was in a lot of pain. At the time, there was not a lot of information available about Lupus. I wish I had a resource like Healthline. It would have made that possible diagnosis a little less scary. If you or someone you know has Lupus, or you think you may have Lupus, please check out this link:

http://www.healthline.com/health/lupus/effects-on-body

It is a virtual guide of the symptoms of Lupus and how it affects the body. It's a great resource.