The Mighty Logo

The One Thing People With Invisible Illnesses Want

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

I am invisible.

Well, I’m not actually invisible, but part of me is.

It’s the part of me that really doesn’t want me to succeed or to do well. The part that hates seeing me have a good day.

And I say it’s invisible because you can’t see it. You can’t see me struggle. Granted, some days I may take a long time to walk up the stairs or my mood is down, but you probably won’t know why.

This is the same for many other people in the world. They have the same feeling every day. 

According to the CDC, “about half of all adults — 117 million people — had one or more chronic health conditions” in the U.S. as of 2012. Disabled World says around 10 percent of the population (650 million people) “have a disability.” Unfortunately, quite a few of these are invisible.

And the problem is people don’t understand something they can’t see. If people can’t see a problem, then it clearly doesn’t exist.

I know so many people who live with invisible problems that you’ll never know about. You’ll never know about them until you know that person. That’s why I’m taking the stance that you should never judge someone by what you can’t see, and you should cut people slack.

People, it’s 2017 for goodness sake. There’s no room for anymore hate than there already is in this world.

Maybe your friend says she’s tired, or your other friend says he isn’t feeling too well. The way to deal with that is to give someone a break. Even if they’re “normal,” everyone needs to step back once in a while. After all, we’re all only human. (Insert Rag’n’Bone Man’s “Human” here. Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

There’s a long list of what is considered an invisible disability — a condition that impacts you on a long-term basis or will probably impact you for life — including depression, anxiety, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, diabetes, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, joint hypermobility syndrome, chronic pain, endometriosis, autism and asthma. The list can go on and on.

There are so many people who are invisible warriors, and you probably don’t even know it. Maybe, you’re one of us. If that’s the case, I want to congratulate you. Well done on whatever you’ve done today. I know it must have been hard.

I could go on and on about this issue, but I feel sad I have to even discuss it. I feel sad I have to put this on the internet.

I shouldn’t be shamed for sitting down after 10 minutes of standing because I look perfectly fine.

We shouldn’t be shamed for taking a disabled seat on a bus, taking longer to walk up the stairs or even having a disabled parking badge.

We battle through every day and just wait to see what the next day brings.

We don’t want your sympathy, and we don’t want you to feel sorry.

We don’t want you to worry if we tell you about our illness. We want you to treat us the same. However, we want you to acknowledge that we exist and our conditions exist.

And sometimes, we want you to understand and not judge us. That’s all we want.

 We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Originally published: January 12, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home