It is „invisible illness awareness week 2015“ and I would like to take this opportunity and talk about invisible diseases too.
There are many little things which, for healthy people, are not even worth to think about it, but represent a major hurdle for people with invisible diseases. There are a lot of diseases you cannot see by looking at someone.
The person you accidentally bumped into at the grocery store because he needs too much time for sorting his things in his shopping cart might be in great pain and maybe only able to stand on his feet with great effort. Perhaps he suffers from cervical spine instability and can hardly move his hands, cannot see because of blurred vision and hardly manages his weekly shopping. The little bump from behind might lead to a severe deterioration of this persons condition for weeks.
The young woman who does not stand up for the old lady perhaps suffers from a form of dysautonomia and would lose consciousness if she would stand on her feet for a couple of minutes. She struggles to concentrate, her heart races, she has a bad nausea and feels woozy. If she got up of her seat she immediately would feel dizzy and blacked out within a short time. Maybe she even struggles to not collapse while sitting. Bad people would call her lazy or treat her with ignorance and hurt her deeply.
The man who parked his car on a disabled paring space and leaves it walking might suffer from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and is in a lot of pain. His joints almost subluxate with every step and he feels like he would break apart. The bandages he wears to support his joints are well hidden beyond his clothes and the shopping cart only serves to help taking the load from the man’s legs.
The woman who is pushed through the airport in a wheelchair and then gets up to get her cab may be so weak that it costs her the last amount of energy she still has. Perhaps she suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and barely made it through the long flight.
The person at the coffee shop you are rolling your eyes about because she is inquiring all possible ingredients of their snacks perhaps suffers from a mast cell disease and cannot eat anything outside of her house. This person would get severe cramps, sweating, nausea and diarrhea for days. She would be bed bound for days and be too weak to get up from a little amount of the wrong food.
The person who is having a nice conversation with you in the park, who is laughing and having fun with you might not be able to get out of bed on the next day. Maybe this person wanted to pretend to have a normal day and spent the whole energy in sitting there with you.
What I’m saying is, why don’t we use the time we normally spend to judge other people for simply asking them about the fate they have to bear. Most of those people are more than willing to talk to you about their condition and will help you to understand why they need a wheelchair, why they need disabled parking spaces or a seat in the train.
Please do remember that some people are very proud and do not show their weakness to anyone. We often do more than we are able to do, so that we do not have to ask for help. We smile even though we do not feel like smiling and we try to look normal and healthy even if we are not.
Let us try to not judge anyone just because they don’t look sick at first glance. Let’s make sure that there is more tolerance for invisible diseases. Open your heart and take a closer look.