If you suffer from a chronic illness, physical condition or pain, you have probably heard some semblance of the words “but you don’t look sick” at one time or another. It’s frustrating and annoying to say the least. Those of us who live with a chronic health condition often find ourselves being misunderstood by others who see us as looking normal, and seem to find it hard to believe we are struggling physically. To make matters worse, sometimes this affects us at work with our co-workers or employers who do not understand the energy it takes us on a day to day basis to simply maintain ‘normal’ functioning.
Truthfully, most chronic conditions can appear “invisible” to others until they have reached end-stage. Thus, living with a chronic health condition may involve years of unempathic, invalidating responses and looks from friends, people in public, co-workers and even family members. This takes an emotional toll after a while and is draining and stressful in an already taxing situation. Autoimmune diseases are especially vulnerable to being misunderstood and minimized by others. Some health conditions that are often “invisible” to others are Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Diabetes, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Celiac Disease, Sleep Disorders, Thyroid Disease, and there are MANY more. Please leave a comment if you know of one I didn’t list.
Christine Miserandino is an award winning author and blogger and she also suffers from Lupus. She wrote this amazing explanation of what it’s like to live with a chronic illness. It’s called “The Spoon Theory” and you’ll understand why after you read it. If you have friends or family members who don’t understand what you deal with on a day to day basis, try explaining the spoon theory to them.
The Spoon Theory, by Christine Miserandino
Stacey Wald, LPC, RD