Invisible Illness Awareness
Every day that we walk down the street, or go to work we are probably passing someone who is suffering from anxiety, depression, or even chronic pain.
We may be at a restaurant, the movies, the mall and have a service person waiting on us who just isn’t nice.
When we encounter someone like that we tend to get upset because they are in the service industry and it’s their job to put on a smile, or to always be nice. Trust me i was one of those people for a long time. That was until I got sick.
Millions of people including those same service people are suffering on the inside and we don’t even know because “we don’t understand, what we can’t see.” It doesn’t make us bad people, it just means we haven’t gone through a point where we are in constant pain either physical, emotional or both. They might look healthy on the outside, but that doesn’t mean they are healthy on the inside. The worst thing we can do when someone says they are down, or in pain is to put them down even more and tell them to get over it.
I have seen people finally feel comfortable enough to share how they are feeling, and end being told to “grow up” to “just get up and exercise” and even “it’s all in your head.” It’s heartbreaking to see this happen and even more heartbreaking to have it happen to you.
I have an invisible illness called Central Pain Syndrome, which is a neurological disorder due to damage to your brain, brainstem or spine. Mine came from a mild traumatic brain injury from a car accident. From that day on I have been in constant pain that never goes away. Some days I could barely stand let alone be overly nice to people.
It killed me when I had doctors tell me it was in my head and that I was trying to get attention. I had people tell me I looked fine or would give me looks when I said I couldn’t work. It’s all because I didn’t lose a limb, or because you couldn’t physically see anything wrong with me.
Most likely we will all encounter, or already have, some sort of invisible illness whether it’s chronic pain, or anxiety, or depression and the list goes on. Life is hard enough as it is without having to deal with judgement on something that isn’t our fault.
I want you to know it’s okay to be sad, or to be mad. It’s okay if you aren’t okay all the time, even if you are in the service field. We are all human no matter what we do in life and just by showing up every day shows how strong you all are.
If you come into contact with someone who is suffering don’t be the person who judges them, be the person that says I hear you. You are heard. Your feelings are valid. Sometimes when people are suffering, they just want to know they are heard and someone to listen to them.
Next time you have someone not so kind try and be a little more understanding. You never know their situation. Who knows one day you might be in a situation you need help? You would probably want the help rather than the judgement. Like the saying goes, “treat others how you would want to be treated.” The same goes for encountering someone with invisible illnesses.
Mental health has always been a tough subject because of how stigmatized it is, but it shouldn’t be. It should be talked about as much as surgery is, or the flu because it’s just a different type of illness. Be the one person to stand up for those that need it. Don’t be the person to join the crowd because of fear, or ignorance. If you don’t understand something, it’s okay to ask questions it is honestly appreciated it.