Most of the time when people hear that one of my areas of specialization is invisible illness, they express never having heard of that term before. People know about chronic illness or mental illness, but invisible illness is not something that is frequently talked about.
Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to show compassion towards others than it is to give that to yourself? Do you find that you are quick to be frustrated with yourself when experiencing physical symptoms of an illness, rather than be compassionate towards yourself? Are you asking yourself right now, "what does self-compassion towards oneself when living with chronic illness even look like?"
Do you live with a chronic illness and find yourself wondering if others who live with illness experience similar feelings to you? Do you find yourself wondering if you are overreacting or whether your feelings are valid? Do others who do not live with illness oftentimes not quite understand why you may be having the feelings that you are having?
You just found out that someone you care about has just received a medical diagnosis and you don't know what to say. You are not alone. This is a common feeling and it is ok to not always know what to do or say. What is important is to try to not react in speech or action without thinking sensitively first.
Feeling as if there is no control over one's body or health, is one of the most frightening experiences a person may have. In fact, it can be so terrifying that at times it may be traumatic, causing a person to think about this loss of control over and over, and maybe even leading a person to create scary scenarios about the future.
"Passing" may be a more relevant construct for people living with invisible illnesses; however, it can be an issue to grapple with for all people who live with chronic illness, as illness can be more visible during some times and less during others. If a person who is living with illness is "passing," that would mean that to others, that person appears as seemingly "healthy."
Can one walk two paths side by side at the same time every day? Can one be in the present, engaged in the beauty of the mundane; the richness and value of daily life...work, hobbies, home and play, while at the same time always preparing, processing, and knowing about the time when things will inevitably change?
What happens when a person who lives with a chronic illness finds him/herself in a situation in which s/he has to care for someone else? This can be quite a balancing act and can follow with many feelings, such as confusion, guilt, ambivalence, exhaustion, anxiety, and even depression. How does a person find him/her self in such a situation and what can s/he do about it to cope as best as possible in the given circumstance?
"Since being diagnosed with my illness, I no longer know who I am . So much has changed in my life. My daily routine is different, my energy levels completely altered, my physical strength diminished, my sleep tampered with, and my sense of self confused. Am I even the same person? I don't know who I am anymore."
As the holidays have geared up, I notice how increasingly difficult it has been to find time for myself, such as sitting down and writing my blog. It has even been difficult to make space for myself to merely think about what I might want to write. Stepping away from my to-do list for just a moment, I become aware of the effects of the holiday craze.
A person may frequently fluctuate between feeling like a human being and feeling like some sort of body object when living with chronic physical illness. Such experiences may consist of pain or intense emotions, such as burning sensations in one's legs, a relentlessness nausea, and extreme sadness because of this.
Shame is such a powerful emotion, and usually an unwelcome and unpleasant one. Shame implies something wrong has been done and that one should feel badly about him/her self. A person who is ashamed often feels on the "outside", marginalized, and outcast from the mainstream. One would not expect a person with illness to feel ashamed of his/her self.