You'll often see me using chronic illness and invisible illness interchangeably, but this isn't accurate for everyone. For me, my chronic illnesses are invisible. But what's the difference? The CDC defines chronic illnesses as "conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both." While a vast majority of these conditions are invisible illnesses, not all are. Some chronic illnesses may start as invisible but can develop into visible illnesses over time, such as Parkinson's or MS. Invisible illnesses are just that, invisible. Often, we think of illnesses/disabilities as being visible. Those of us with chronic conditions are far too used to hearing "but you don't look sick" or "you seem fine." Just because we don't look or act sick doesn't mean that we aren't. Sure I have days where I can be part of a fashion show or vend at a pop-up shop, but I also have a lot of days where I can barely get out of bed. I have days where I have to take off work or cancel plans. Days where I have to leave from a movie early because of a flare up. But if you look at me, you won't see that. People tend to forget that people with invisible illnesses have the illnesses and expect them to function the same as everyone else. It's easy to forget when we don't always look or act sick. Often, people with invisible illnesses are seen as faking it. They may be called hypochondriacs. People may think we are making excuses. People think we are being lazy. There are a lot of negative thoughts and reactions that we have to navigate. Just because someone doesn't look sick, may not mean that they aren't dealing with extreme pain, fatigue, or other issues. It's one of the reasons I am becoming so passionate about sharing my experiences and conditions; it is important to bring more awareness to these conditions so that hopefully, those with invisible illnesses will not always face these stigmas.
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