Invisible Disabilities Week [ 14th – 20th Oct 2018 ]

Okay, so it seems like there’s a day, week or month for everything lately, but that’s what raising awareness is all about, having these times to make a push for change. 

Last year, there was Invisible Illness Week and this year it’s Invisible Disabilities, which may cause some eye brows to raise. For many, myself included, they may think their condition is more an illness than a disability, albeit one that can be disabling in everyday life. So this is an all-encompassing week for anyone dealing with hidden illness and disability, mental and physical, whatever it may be and whatever its impact on your life.

What Are Invisible Illnesses / Disabilities?

I started this blog with the intention of covering invisible illness, be that raising awareness, providing a little support where possible, or sharing my own experiences. Invisible illness and disability are all unique experiences to that individual, so one cannot really compare to another, just as how we each deal with our challenges will all be unique.

There are numerous unseen illnesses and disabilities. A few examples include : 

Migraine / Fibromyalgia / Stomas / Connective Tissue Disease / MS / Diabetes / CF / Sleep Disorders / Digestive Conditions such as constipation, Crohn’s or Colitis / Autoimmune Disorders such as Pernicious Anaemia / Thyroid disorder (ie. hypothyroidism & hyperthyroidism) / Chronic pain disorders / Dysautonomia / POTS / Lupus / Cancer / Chronic Fatigue / Depression, eating disorders, anxiety & other mental illness / Sjogren’s Syndrome / Intolerances & Allergies / Lyme Disease / Arthritis

… And the list goes on …

Oftentimes people will have more than one issue to contend with, and they can come with their own array of symptoms and difficulties in diagnosis, treatment and impact on life. The effects can range from the big things to the very minutiae in daily life.

Why Raise Awareness?

I think it’s important to raise awareness of issues that can’t be seen because the ramifications are extensive for such conditions. Diagnosis can be incredibly challenging, social stigma painful, it can affect work and relationships and every inch of our lives, and as a sufferer we can feel a host of emotions from guilt to embarrassment. While things are changing, there’s still a lack of knowledge and understanding of many conditions, and the unfailing assumption that looking ‘fine’ means you couldn’t possibly be sick. They’re hidden struggles and the person fighting the battles often gets adept at putting on a face to the outside world and keeping going.

This is not just any toilet, it’s an M&S toilet.

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What I Want People To Know 

> To those with invisible disabilities/illnesses : You’re not alone. The illness may be invisible, but you are not, so be your own advocate for your own health and wellbeing. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t, and hold onto hope for brighter days. Don’t feel guilty for smiling, and never forget that you are more than your illness.

> To society : A person with an illness or disability is still a person deserving of respect and happiness. Don’t rush to judgement just because they may not look ‘sick’, that doesn’t mean they don’t need that disabled toilet or that disabled parking space. A little compassion and empathy can go a long way.

> To friends & family : Don’t give up on those with illness because cancelled plans don’t mean they don’t care. They are warriors to get through each day and are dealing with far more than meets the eye.

> To medical professionals : Please have an open mind and look beyond a medical textbook. We are not seeing you because we like going to the doctor or hospital, we’re there because we’re struggling. You are in a position of responsibility and authority, please use that wisely and go beyond numbers on tests to see the bigger picture. Please listen to the patient and respect what they’re telling you.

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There’s an increase in mental health awareness, physical illness and disability awareness, and appreciation for conditions that cannot be easily ‘seen’. But there’s still a lot of work to be done. A lot of ignorance to reverse, a lot of judgements and stereotypes to challenge.

Invisible and/or chronic illness or disability can take a lot from you. Take back some control. Don’t shy away. Be yourself, be proud, appreciate what you do have. Listen to your body and do what you need to do to make sure you are okayDon’t apologise for who you are or the condition(s) you have.

You are stronger than you think. So live fiercely.

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What my invisible illnesses have taught me

Even paralympians can look ‘normal’

What it means to have an invisible illness

Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t 

International Fibromyalgia awareness 2018

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Caz  

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26 Comments

  1. October 16, 2018 / 3:31 pm

    amazing amazing
    I didn’t know that
    I have an invisible disability !
    I am vision impaired !

    • October 22, 2018 / 4:27 pm

      That’s an invisible one if it impacts your life & nobody can ‘see’ the symptoms. Learn something new every day, eh! Thanks for reading, Cat – I hope you have a good week 🙂

  2. October 16, 2018 / 3:40 pm

    Amen. We are stronger than we think. Persevere and know God is always with us.

    • October 22, 2018 / 4:26 pm

      Exactly, we are stronger than we think & perseverance counts for a lot. Thank you, Melissa 🙂

  3. October 16, 2018 / 3:45 pm

    “Live fiercely” – great advice for all of us, Caz, thank you.

    • October 22, 2018 / 4:25 pm

      I’m glad you liked it, thank you Julie! 🙂

  4. October 16, 2018 / 3:46 pm

    Another fabulous post Caz! I especially loved your What I Want People To Know section. Bringing awareness to invisible disabilities often lets people realize what they are, but doesn’t tell them how they can help. By addressing the people most affected and society at large, you give them the knowledge they need. Thanks for sharing this info!

    • October 22, 2018 / 3:48 pm

      I’m so glad you liked the post, and thank you for the wonderful comment, Terri! 🙂

  5. October 16, 2018 / 4:02 pm

    We may never know what another is going through until we walk a mile in their shoes. There is much we don’t see, but that doesn’t mean all is well. I get this.

    Have a fabulous day. ♥

    • October 22, 2018 / 3:53 pm

      Very true indeed!

  6. October 16, 2018 / 5:40 pm

    Such a great post. 11 years ago I suffered sudden hearing loss in my left ear. Drs. never determined why and I have never regained the hearing. I have learned to accommodate myself by turning my head so that my right side is toward the person speaking or trying to avoid places where there is a lot of noise. when possible. It is very much an invisible disability and even when people are aware they forget or just do not consider it when talking to me.

    • October 22, 2018 / 3:45 pm

      I can imagine that being very difficult and pretty frustrating, because, as you say, it’s something someone would need to be aware of when talking to you and even when someone knows it’s easy to forget or not consider it. I’m sorry they never determined a cause for the hearing loss; did you have any ear infections or tinnitus just prior to it, or was it an out-of-the-blue kind of thing? Thank you for sharing xx

  7. October 17, 2018 / 5:02 am

    Yes, “Live Fiercely” – Wonderful advice, Caz.
    Your understanding, once again, makes me proud to be human.. 🙂

    • October 21, 2018 / 5:29 am

      Aw, thank you Carolyn! I hope you’re keeping well and having a lovely weekend =]
      xx

  8. October 17, 2018 / 5:14 am

    I just wrote a post about this just two days ago. You can have a read here. coolncreative.wordpress.com/2018/10/15/invisible-illness-awareness-week/I like the sign of the toilet. Sometimes we may not physically be in wheelchair but we may need to go to the bathroom in a bigger space when we’re not feeling so good, hence the disabled toilet. For example to go and wash our face when we get too hot, to take some time away from the busy environment or before you had your stoma with the bowel issues. Actually I found this article on the Mighty and it talks all about that. Somoen mentions in there “I will use disabled toilets because I don’t want to go with other people around”. That is so good that they would make that move. I liek the what I want people to know part too as I have mentioned many times we should not be defined by our condition. Actually my new website is up and running but in the future will feature quotes like this.

    • October 21, 2018 / 5:29 am

      Glad to see you posted to raise awareness for the week too, the more the merrier! I’m glad you liked the post and I totally agree, conditions shouldn’t define us, they’re not who we are, we’re all more than that. Thanks for the comment =]

  9. October 17, 2018 / 7:38 am

    Really great post Caz. I especially like the section on what you want people to know. Invisible illnesses / disabilities are so poorly understand, and it’s really important to raise awareness. It is very easy for us to put on that brave face to the rest of the world, and people have no idea just how much we struggle. Xx

    • October 21, 2018 / 5:26 am

      You’re right, the brave face can hide the struggles that others simply don’t see. Thank you, Emma! x

  10. October 17, 2018 / 10:41 pm

    brilliantly said, Caz <3

    • October 21, 2018 / 5:25 am

      Thank you! I hope you’re well 🙂

  11. October 21, 2018 / 7:46 pm

    I am sorry I am a little late with being able to read and comment! Like always Caz this was an amazing post!! I am so ashamed to admit, for some strange reason I didn’t even realize it was Invisible Disabilities Week. I think there must have been too much going on in life and I lost track of time. At least I have finally been able to catch up rest and blogging this weekend just in time for the last day of Invisible Disabilities Week, Isn’t it funny that there is either day, week or month for everything. I feel we should be able to have days off from work to acknowledge these illness! I hope you had a great weekend Sweetie!! Thank you so much for sharing this brilliant post!!!

    • October 22, 2018 / 4:32 pm

      It’s gone by pretty quietly this year sadly, so you’re not alone in not realising! I like the idea of a day off work to realise and appreciate these days, they’re pretty important after all! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment – you’ve had a heck of a lot on and I’m always falling behind so I don’t know how you’re managing to catch up like you are! I hope everything’s been going okay, and that the week is a positive one with the house and work 🙂
      xx

  12. October 22, 2018 / 11:06 am

    Thank you for this. Such an important thing to raise awareness on and I had no idea it was the awareness week which goes to show how little it’s mentioned considering I have some of the conditions you mentioned in this post as disabilities.

    • October 22, 2018 / 3:41 pm

      You’re right, it does fly under the radar somewhat and yet it’s so important because it covers a multitude of conditions! x

    • October 26, 2018 / 4:13 pm

      I’ve just seen this and it’s made my day, thank you! I need to re-think my stance on Twitter and maybe bite the bullet and start using it! Thank you Sheryl – have a lovely weekend =]
      xx

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