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The Challenges of Being a Concertgoer With an Invisible Illness

I am an avid concertgoer, and have been since my first concert at age 13. While every concert has been a good night and worth every bit of pain, exhaustion and days in bed, it can be challenging. Here is what I experience as a concertgoer with an invisible illness.

For most, a fun concert is one spent standing, dancing and in the front row! This is simply not possible for me. I feel like I need to stand up for short periods when possible so I’m not seen as a moody teenager unhappy to be seeing their favorite artists. And simply in order to see! But I book reserved seating so I have a safe place to be if I need to rest between songs. Don’t get me wrong! Stand up! Enjoy the show! I don’t want to be the fun police here and ruin your night. It’s difficult to see and I’m here to enjoy the night as much as you, but my illness means that sitting down is a more appropriate way for me to enjoy the night.


Artists often ask their fans to stand up and dance along at concerts. I feel that when I don’t stand up it is almost insulting to them. In 2014, Kanye West said at his Sydney show that he wasn’t going to perform the next song until everyone in the arena was standing and even asked a wheelchair-user to stand. I fear this will happen to me at a concert. The crowd makes the atmosphere what it is; I feel like by not standing up with the crowd I look like I’m not enjoying the show. There’s simply just a lot going on in my body and standing up may cause me to faint, which is not how I want to spend tonight! I almost wish there were reserved “chronic illness” seats towards the front where I’d be able to see.

Recently, when trying to purchase tickets to a Lorde concert, I experienced this before even arriving at the venue. The venue is outdoor with few seats and a large standing lawn area. The small number of seats sold out quickly while I was at school. I called up the ticket company, asking if perhaps there was any disability seating available. I was told at this venue they only have seats for those in wheelchairs. I am not a regular wheelchair user so I did not feel comfortable accepting these, fearing I would be taking them from those with no other option. I was left with the options of buying resale tickets that are more than twice the price each, sitting at the back of the standing lawn area or missing out altogether. I have yet to find a solution; do I spend extra money, go and not see, not go at all or just sit outside the venue and listen? If a concert is standing general admission, I can’t go. Standing up for two hours is simply not an option with the pre-syncope I experience. I wish there was a solution for those like myself with invisible illnesses.

I wish more artists were aware of invisible illnesses, and I’m certainly more than happy to educate anyone who will listen! My way of enjoying your show is by sitting, singing, filming to relive it later and loving time spent with friends. Please don’t take it as an insult if I am not able to stand at your concert! I may look like a perfectly healthy 17-year-old girl, but standing up causes so much dizziness, tachycardia and chest pain that it leads to fainting. You’re my favorite artist! I’m here to have a good night – I just don’t want to get sick and have to leave early.

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Thinkstock photo via bernardbodo.