As an individual with an chronic, invisible disability I try to speak out against the bigotry that people give to us. I want to educate all that just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not real. I cringe when someone calls another person a hypochondriac. How do you know? Are you in their body? Being a hypochondriac is an illness in itself. Yes mental illness is an invisible disability as well. My husband had me watch “Then Came You” about a man who thought he was dying. His twin had died years earlier which gave him a real fear. Yes, it was all mental, but a real fear nonetheless. This was a good movie if you want to watch it.
Anyway back to my point... Who are you to judge whether or not someone is sick? Does it take any effort to be kind and considerate? In the movie, the man attends a cancer support group and is befriended by a young woman with cancer. She changes his life. It only takes one person to change someone’s life. So let it start with you.
Whether or not someone is sick is between them and their doctor. Most people with disabilities are not scamming the system. Believe me, they’d rather be healthy. People with chronic illnesses, can only hope to manage their symptoms. There is no cure. No we might not die from it, but sometimes we feel like it. What works for one, doesn’t necessarily work for another, so even the doctors are mystified about how to treat it. I had a great PCP, who said, “We’ll treat one symptom at a time.” Sometimes that’s all doctors can do is treat symptoms.
I went into remission from most of my invisible illnesses for about six years. It was heaven and I was able to go off most of my medication including reducing my asthma medication. I don’t know why this happened, but it was as if I’d been cured by diet and exercise. Thinking back though, I went into remission first and then I started eating healthier and exercising. It did not cure me, as I found out when the Ménière’s returned at Disneyland in 2017.
Now all my stuff are returning, with new stuff popping up. People have asked, “Why all of a sudden?” I cannot answer that except to say that is how Autoimmune/Chronic diseases work. One day you feel great and the next you are flat on your back too tired to get out of bed or too sore or too dizzy... I could go on and on about the way I feel on bad days.
So, why judge me on my good days? Do you know this was the first time in a month that my head was clear enough to drive? That I didn’t ache so I could go pick up my medication? Do you know how it feels to get one or two days a month where you feel almost normal? Just because I don’t show you the bad days, and unless you visit you’ll never see them, doesn’t mean I don’t have them.
Even on my so-so days when I venture out with my husband, you won’t see how my head is so fogged up that I can’t concentrate, or that I am struggling with the overstimulation of noise and lights. You might see me tip or stumble, if you are paying attention. Most people aren’t. Sometimes I need that cane to give me confidence to walk when I feel dizzy or off balance, even thoughI know if the vertigo starts it will not keep me upright. And the drop attacks come out of nowhere. I mostly get slammed backwards, so you may notice these or the ones where I am walking and it feels like my ankle forgets it has a job to do and I go down. But you will find reasons these happened. I have been called clumsy or careless. I am clumsy, but not in these instances. These are part of my illness.
Next time you see someone using that handicapped parking spot, or someone cancels plans, because they can’t get out of bed or are having anxiety, please be understanding. Many people with invisible disabilities feel isolated and indeed they are, because friends stop trying. I say continue to ask me to do things, but be patient if I have to cancel, it’s all part of being chronically ill.
I hope you are spin free.
Love, Peace and Light! Rita