The Invisible truth –
The problem that I have with calling so many diseases “Invisible” diseases is the connotations and suggestions that it leaves. It suggests that there is something suspicious or illusory about it, which I find not at all helpful.
Why does it needed to be labelled “Invisible” at all?
We don’t say someone has invisible cancer, or invisible diabetes, or invisible heart condition, so why the needed to call some diseases or illnesses invisible? Almost all Autoimmune diseases have been given the label of invisible illnesses which has made the struggle for acceptance, understanding, empathy and research all the more harder. Other illnesses and diseases (including mental illnesses) have also fallen into this surreptitious category which only succeeds in concealing the true nature and the suffering faced by all these difficult and challenging illnesses.
If a person claims to be suffering from a broken heart we don’t demand proof of it or call it an invisible issue. We accept it as the truth and respect the pain and suffering that the person must be going through.
If someone claims to be grieving the loss of a friend, family member or spouse, we don’t call it an invisible condition of grief. So why should we label certain diseases, which currently have no cure, as being invisible? Of what possible use or benefit can it bring other than to perpetuate doubt and suspicion.
Although there are many diseases that may not have visible manifestations, ie sores or open wounds, however this is no indication of the seriousness of the illness or the debilitating the effects. Which leads me to other difficult term “invisible disability”. I struggle with this term because of the pain and suffering it has caused so many people who try so hard to fight for a life and face the struggles and challenges that these illnesses and diseases inflict, without having their battles belittled or placed in suspicion.
The great majority of those with “invisible” illnesses have lost their jobs, homes, respect, dignity, marriages, children, goals, identity, financial stability, physical abilities and anyone who would look at such events and seriously consider them as “invisible illnesses” or try and down play the seriousness or consequences, I would have to question their faculties, empathy or medical knowledge.
I can remember years ago the heartache and anger experienced by a friend who had lost their job, and as I empathized with him (as many of his friends and family did) I can remember thinking how society will openly support and comfort someone who has lost a job and yet show no compassion to 100s of millions of people who have lost far more and will never again have them back.
People who are going through divorce, heartache, job loss or some other life challenge are not required to spend years trying to convince people how sad, devastating and challenging their situation is, whereas the average time for diagnosis and treatment for Autoimmune diseases is 8 years and approximately 3 doctors, during that time the suffering (emotional and physical) experienced by patients is beyond the comprehension of most people. My friend now has a job again but I never will. There is nothing invisible about the loss of career and independence.
In fact, I honestly believe that the only invisible aspects of these illnesses and diseases is the amount of suffering and devastation that they cause, much of which is caused by the attitudes and ignorance of the majority of people today.
There is an old saying that “ … [there] is no one so blind as he who will not see….” and in that way almost any suffering and struggle can be considered invisible to those who don’t want to see or acknowledge.