What Living With an Invisible Disability Can Look Like

Living with an invisible disability looks like walking around downtown with my husband trying to decide where to eat, while inside my mind and body are screaming I will be paying for this later. My feet starting to hurt, and I know simply resting them for a little bit won’t do anything for the pain. I have to stop every block to stretch my back.

Living with an invisible disability looks like being excited for a huge comedy show, tickets bought as a birthday gift for my husband. Celebrating his special day, walking into the venue and feeling overwhelmed, wanting to flee. Looking for the fastest way to either get out of there or get to our seats to try to avoid the crowd.

Living with an invisible disability looks like sitting on a plastic chair in a crowded venue, hoping someone doesn’t need to get past me because I know I won’t be able to get up to let them pass. Having to adjust every five minutes so my body doesn’t stiffen up too badly, so I can stay for the entire show.

Living with an invisible disability looks like laughing through the show, then waiting for the aisles to clear so I don’t slow anyone down when they try to leave. Getting outside to the train that will take me to my car only to be surrounded by people all trying to rush home and clinging to my husband for dear life. I don’t want to get lost in the crowd. Or touched. Or looked at. I’m afraid I might scream.

Living with an invisible disability looks like sitting on the floor in the train because I don’t “look disabled” and I am not elderly so no one even thinks about offering a seat. And why would they? They don’t know my mind and body are falling apart as we all ride home together.

Living with an invisible disability looks like watching the worried glances my husband keeps throwing my way, wondering if he pushed me too hard while looking for someplace to eat. Feeling bad because he knows I am in pain and there is nothing he can do to help. Feeling like he should have done something to prevent it. While I know all along there was really no way to prevent it, even if we hadn’t walked around.

Living with an invisible disability looks like living.

It just doesn’t always feel like it.

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Thinkstock photo by DAJ

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