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Don't Forget the Superheroes Fighting an Invisible Battle Against Chronic Illness

When we were children, we argued over which superhero was the best. We rated the super powers, and we deliberated over which one we would have. Super strength, and the ability to throw cars at our enemies? Mind-reading and the ability to know everyone’s thoughts? Telekinesis, shapeshifting, super speed?

How about invisibility? To slip in anywhere undetected, unnoticed.

No. I never chose invisibility. But invisibility chose me. Like most superheroes my super power was bestowed upon me, unwanted and unasked for. But now I have it and all I can do is use it to fight for the good in life. Of course, for every superhero, there is a villain trying to destroy them.

My villains are not out to ruin the world, or steal the money, or capture the girl. They’re just out to destroy my body instead. And so, to the untrained eye, my battle goes undetected. The struggle is internal – invisible to anyone outside. I have no costume, wear no mask and wield no weapons. I am just me, trying to survive.

I am not alone in this battle. In fact, I am not a lone superhero. I am part of an army. In recent years the campaign for #MillionsMissing shows just how many superheroes there are in this army. Heroes who laid down their day-to-day lives to fight the villains residing inside them. And yet there are still more of us.

Chronic illness is a vicious villain and so many of us have been chosen for this fight. For me, it was fibromyalgia, but it doesn’t stop there. ME, lupus, arthritis, Asperger’s, interstitial cystitis – I could name so many more. There is no end to the number of superheroes that have been called to join The Invisible Army. We are tired, we are weary, we are sore, but we keep fighting our invisible fight.

And the thing is, we look just like you. We look like the girl who works at the supermarket, the receptionist at the doctor’s, the man walking his dog in the park. We are everyone. And we are fighting all the time. Just because you don’t see our fight… doesn’t make us any less of a superhero. Because, fighting against your own body – fighting to just survive each day, and to keep putting one foot in front of the other when your body is against you – that is a heroic effort to me.

Getty Image by Malchev

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