This week is Invisible Illness Week – a week to highlight illness that nobody else sees.
And because nobody can see it, there is a good chance that nobody (or most people at least) really don’t understand what you are going through.
How can they? There is nothing to see.
In order to be seen as sick, it is really helpful to have a cast on at least one limb, a drip stand would be useful, an awful sounding cough might help too.
Unfortunately, many people have an invisible illness and they suffer in silence. In fact, most invisible illnesses become worse if you are stressed.
If you are suffering on your own, feeling tense and angry, it is only going to make your symptoms worse.
While I think it is so important to have awareness weeks for illness, it is more important for you to take responsibility for yourself:
1. Speak up! People can’t see what you are going through so you need to let them know. You don’t have to spend ages moaning and complaining but you do need to let people around you know that you are battling.
2. Ask for help! There are no prizes for doing everything by yourself – believe me, if there were I would be overwhelmed by the amount of prizes that I would get.
Tell people what you need and what they can do for you – people often like feeling that they have an important role to play and by giving them a practical task to help you, they will feel good and it will benefit you – win-win!
3. Educate! You have a responsibility to educate people about your illness. People are only going to understand if you become an advocate for your illness.
4. Be gentle on yourself. If you are going through a tough time, take some time out to recover and don’t (DON’T!) feel guilty about not being the perfect parent, spouse, partner, colleague etc.
5. Putting other people’s needs before your own is not going to make you any better. It is nice to be nice but know that you don’t need to be nice to other people to feel good about yourself – you are wonderful! That is enough.
6. Take breaks! If you don’t make the decision to take a break to look after your health, your body will force you to take a break when you burn out or your immune system crashes – it is your choice.
7. You are NOT your illness! You may feel that it totally dominates your life but it is a guest in your body, not the general manager.