They are called “Invisible Illnesses” because we look healthy, despite the fight that is going on inside us. We may have a healthy pallor, rosey cheeks, freshly washed hair, a full face of makeup (or a clean shaven well groomed face in the case of males), shaved legs, painted nails, a twinkle in our eyes, a good mood and a sense of humour - meaning the people who don’t know us are none the wiser to how we are really feeling. But, those who really love us and care enough can always tell. If you actually bother to pay attention to someone, they will have “tells” that will let you know they are struggling. My Dad can actually hear it in my voice just from being on the phone to me for more than 20 seconds, even if I’m far away and don’t tell him. If someone really loves you, then your illness is not invisible to them.
Some of the tells that someone is suffering are:
There will be other tells, and everybody is different. The more you get to know someone, the more you can tell if something is wrong.
Invisible illnesses aren’t just invisible because we “look healthy” - they’re also invisible because people don’t really realise the daily struggles we have. Things that healthy people do with ease, and without thinking, are things that those who are chronically ill struggle with every single day.
If you do not already know about the spoon theory, I reccomend you read it before continuing to read this post. It is not necessary but it would give you a better understanding.
The things those of us who are chronically ill struggle with on a day to day basis are:
Things chronically ill people have to account for:
For every person living with chronic illness, the variety and severity of symptoms is different every day. Some things you are able to do one day, they may struggle with the next day. Every day is different and some days are worse than others.
Not all of these apply to me, and I’m sure there are loads I have missed
Just a reminder that Invisible Illnesses don’t just refer to physical illnesses, but can refer to mental illnesses too, such as:
Chronic physical illness can lead to mental illness, but mental illness can exist on it’s own too.
There is a lot of stigma around them (which, in my opinion results from a lack of education) and they are widely misunderstood. For example, people seem to think that depression is just feeling a little bit sad. It isn’t. It is way more than that.
One in four people in the UK have mental illness.
They are nothing to be ashamed of. They are just as valid as physical pain and illness, and need attention.
Some invisible mental illnesses include:
You do not have to suffer. There are lots of different treatment options, and lots of support available. Again, you have nothing to be ashamed of. If you need help, it is there and available to you.
Here are some great resources for Mental Health support and education:
If you are suffering, please seek out some help - if you are not suffering, please take the time to educate yourself. If one in four people in the UK have mental illness, then there is a pretty high chance that it affects someone you know and love.
You can see all my Invisible Illness Awareness Week 2014 Posts here
Just a reminder that my anonymous is on for this week, as it’s Invisible Illness Awareness week if you want to ask me anything or need someone to talk to.
I have IBD, Asthma and Gallstones (with severe fatigue, vitamin deficiency and muscle inflammtion/pain) but will talk about anything you need. I am here for you :)
The whole point of Invisible Illness Awareness Week is to raise awareness and education to create a better understanding of what those of us with chronic invisible illnesses go through… so if there is anything you want to ask me about my illness or how it affects me, I actively encourage you to do so.
If you ask off anon, I will publish so other people can benifit from my answers UNLESS you ask me to reply privately, in which case, I will do so :)
(Any hate will be deleted instantly)
You can see all my Invisible Illness Awareness Week 2014 posts here.
kreuzt: Once you get this you have to answer with five nice things about yourself publicly. Then pass it on to 10 of your favorite followers.
Oops sorry Alex this has been in my inbox FOREVER.
1) I am a lot stronger than I give myself credit for most of the time. I am a proper little trooper.
2) I am loyal.
3) I thnk I have pretty eyes xD.
4) I have great gut instincts, I’m really intuative which makes me really understanding.
5) I am pretty talented when it comes to acting and crafts
There is not nearly enough awareness surrounding Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, and how they affect people. A lot of people seem to think it’s just a bit of a tummy ache due to eating something a bit off. It’s not widely understood how serious it is.
After many conversations I have had over the past couple of months, I want to raise awareness of the difference between Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Of course, it doesn’t help that the two have almost identical anachronisms - IBS and IBD so it’s very easy to get the two confused.
IBS is unpleasant, uncomfortable (sometimes excruciating), and can be very difficult to live with, but it is not life threatening. IBS is usually when there’s something not quite right with the motility of your bowel, it may not contract in the right sequence, it may spasm a lot, or it may be really slow. Perhaps it’s a case of the nerves not being wired properly.
IBD, however, the clue is in the name. It’s inflammatory, IBS is not.
IBD is also an autoimmune condition - which means that your immune system is attacking itself - IBS is not.
IBS affects the bowel, IBD affects the entire body.
The most common Inflammatory Bowel Diseases are Crohn’s Disease, Crohn’s Colitis, Ulcerative Colitis and Proctitis.
Crohn’s Disease can affect anything from the mouth to the anus - (and vagina/womb/ovaries/fallopian tubes etc in women), and it can affect all layers of the wall of the intestine.
Ulcerative Colitis tends to just affect one part of the bowel.
Proctitis is basically Ulcerative Colitis, but localised to the very end of your bowels - the last inches before your rectum/anus. Proctitis can be caused by Crohn’s Disease, and various other causes like STIs or serious infections.
They can all cause a lot of other serious issues, require some serious medication (steroids and immunosuppressant are common ones), and in some cases, serious surgery such as removing a large portion of the bowel (IBS does not lead to this).
Some of the other issues IBD (or the medication for IBD) can cause are; Ankylosing Spondylitis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Perforated or Prolapsed Bowel, Bowel Obstructions and Perforations, Fistulae, Fissures, Gallstones, Liver problems, Bladder Problems, Breathing Problems, even Tuberculosis…. It can also cause malabsorbtion of vitamins and minerals such as Iron, Calcium, Folic Acid, Vitamin D and B12.
The symptoms of IBD stretch way beyond a “tummy ache” (although believe me, that part of it is very present), chronic diarrhoea, chronic constipation and faecal impaction (sometimes to the point where you’re so impacted you’re being poisoned by your own waste), bloody stools, passing mucous, incontinence, extreme fatigue, joint pains, joint inflammation, inflamed muscles, muscle cramp, crippling back pain, shoulder pain, the shakes, rapid weight loss, the inability to put weight on, eye irritation, skin irritation, skin tags.
Because it’s an autoimmune condition, it also leaves you at a higher risk of getting various other nasty things. IBD itself, and it’s complications can actually be fatal. It’s a very serious condition, and not to be taken lightly.
IBD is a genetic condition, that is not caused by diet. There has been a lot of misleading information in the press lately that experts have been working hard to correct. There is no evidence to support IBD having anything to do with diet. Although, a lot of people with IBD do have a food intolerance or two (the most common ones are gluten and dairy) or find that certain foods can trigger them (but you do not develop IBD because of a poor diet). IBD affects everyone differently, one patient might not be able to eat gluten without spending all night on the toilet in agony, but another patient might not have any food triggers at all. Often patients with IBD have tried a lot of exclusion diets, so they will know themselves what they can and can’t eat safely. There are a few diets that SOME people find help ease their symptoms (such as low sodium or low carbohydrates, low or high fibre), but again, everybody is different. The only diet which has been scientifically proven to help with IBD is enteral feeding through a gastric tube.
For more information, please visit Crohn’s & Colitis UK: http://crohnsandcolitis.org.uk
You can see all my Invisible Illness Awareness Week 2014 posts here