The class that I want to teach on invisible illnesses

“Except you cannot outrun insanity, anymore than you can outrun your own shadow.”
Alyssa Reyans, Letters from a Bipolar Mother

I have numerous chronic illnesses which have no cures and that go through cycles of remission, but never fully go away. Am I the sickest person that I know. Not by a longshot. Do I suffer more than other, nope, not even close. The reason that I bring this up is that my illnesses are “invisible” illnesses. I look relatively healthy, but I am not.

You may be asking yourself, what are invisible illnesses. People who have invisible illnesses have serious medical conditions, but look healthy on most days. For instance, people with mental illnesses, chronic pain, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, sleep disorders, and others.

What’s the problem? Because you look healthy people assume that you are faking your illness or that your illness is not as severe as it is.

I’ll give you an example from my own life. I have chronic migraines (meaning that I have at least 1 migraine lasting 4 or more hours 15 or more days per month). I take preventative medication and medication when migraines occur. During the summer months, I have approximately 20-25 migraines a month with between 10-15 being severe (no medication helps). Even for people who have migraines this is an above average number and severity of migraines. Yet, when I say, “I have a migraine.” What people hear is, “I have a bad headache.” When they should be hearing, “I am in excruciating pain, I may throw-up, I can’t see out of my right eye, why are you breathing so damn loud, would someone please call my Daddy to pick me up because I can’t drive myself.” Instead they say, “Would you like some Advil.”