There is a meme going around Facebook that says “I am what a person with an Invisible Illness looks like.” There are no crutches in the image, no wheelchairs, oxygen masks or indeed any medical paraphernalia at all as an Invisible Illness is just that:
Insidious, debilitating, painful and energy-sapping to the sufferer but invisible to those around, meaning that not only is one suffering, but they are often suffering in an environment of misunderstanding and ignorance.
Unfortunately, it it not uncommon for numerous people at midlife to be suffering from an Invisible Illness. Autoimmune diseases like Lupus, metabolic disorders like Diabetes, syndromes like Endometriosis or PCOS, and then there are the painful inflictions of chronic nerve damage or Arthritis.
Every day I personally deal with people who are living with some form of chronic pain or illness. So many of my midlife clients at the gym where I work suffer some form of affliction – and yet they are the ones still dragging themselves out of bed in order to exercise. When their knees are flaring up – I have them work on their upper body and use the stationary bike instead of the treadmill. When their shoulders are bad, we avoid push ups and shoulder work. Whatever the ailment, we never stop completely as instead, we work AROUND it.
The difference between these ordinary folks and others who are similarly afflicted with Invisible Illnesses or chronic pain?
I’ve witnessed some people totally crippled with the knowledge that their lives will never be what they once were, due to illness. I don’t judge these people as I know that it is impossible to truly understand someone else’s pain tolerance – however I have also witnessed others living with incredible chronic pain or disability who never give up. They stop and rest when they need to, but ultimately they keep going – and I see this lived out every day by my own husband who lives with crippling pain and nerve damage – the result of medical mishap during a spinal fusion.
Let’s revisit that meme again: “I am what a sufferer of Invisible Illness looks like.”
See that photo above?
And yes, I AM what a sufferer of Invisible Illness looks like.
An ordinary, everyday woman, wife and mother who gets out of bed each day and gets on with life, yet like so many other ordinary men and women out there, I live with a chronic condition which is capable of causing debilitating pain – particularly if I don’t take my daily medication.
I’ve been sharing a little more in the Rocking Midlife tribe recently in regards to my journey adapting to more natural low-tox living as a means to help with my autoimmune condition, and my overall health is noticeably improved, however I am still prone to crippling pain flare ups. I tend to doubt that my condition will ever be completely cured by medical science anytime soon, so it therefore comes down to me – just as it does for everyone who walks a similar journey of pain. Will I allow my Invisible Illness to control and define me or will I learn to understand and manage it while keeping my focus outwards on what I can still do to make a difference to my world?
I know I’m not alone on this journey with Invisible Illness and I’d love to hear your story too, so please feel free to comment or apply to join the Rocking Midlife tribe. You are NOT alone.