Posted in Chronic illnesses, Invisible Illness

Invisible, Yet Disabled

July 24, 2010 is the Bloggers Unite “Empowering People with Disabilities” event and its goal to raise awareness about empowerment of those with disabilities. One in five Americans is affected by disability and about 10% of Americans have a medical condition which could be considered an invisible disability. 96% of people with chronic medical conditions live with a condition that is invisible. These people do not use canes and other assistive devices and may appear and act perfectly healthy. A quarter of those people have activity limitations, ranging from mild to severe. This is the way in which disability has affected my life.

The public is always willing to help out someone with a visible disability but those of us with invisible disabilities must seek help out on our own and often times, we go without assistance. That does not mean those with invisible disabilities are not protected by the law. The Americans with Disabilities Act covers those with conditions that make persons disabled from certain functions, whether permanent, sporadic, and some cases, temporary.

People with some kinds of invisible disabilities such as chronic pain conditions or sleep disorders maybe accused of faking or imagining their disabilities. Moreover, people can misunderstand and mistake illness or impairment for something it is not. An example is someone who takes the elevator up one floor and is assumed to be lazy simply because that person has a disability that is not obvious or visible.

I struggle with an invisible condition where the physical and emotional struggles and symptoms are invisible to the outside world. Most people do not realize that a disability does not have to be visible and in fact, many diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia are anything but visible. What they are, however, is sporadic, and do not fit the stereotype of someone sitting in a wheelchair or using a cane because this is how the world around them defines disability. I remember being in my mid-20s visiting medical provider after provider being told that my symptoms were all in my head despite them often times being physically disabling. Apparently, I was not sick or disabled enough to warrant someone’s attention.

The goal of this year’s Bloggers Unite: “Empowering People with Disabilities” Campaign is to raise awareness about our fellow citizens that live with a disability, whether visible or invisible. It only takes a moment to write about disability and add your voice to those writing about this issue. In order to eliminate the barriers that disabled persons face and prejudices that disabled persons must deal with on a daily basis, we need to speak up. Therefore, I ask each of you to write about how disability has affected your life, whether it is you or a loved one, and to step and speak up on July 24.

Please leave a comment letting me know whether you will be participating in the campaign. Look for my post by Saturday afternoon.


6 thoughts on “Invisible, Yet Disabled

  1. I don't see myself as a "raise awareness" kind of guy, but I will participate. I usually don't even get on my computer on workdays, after 12 hours at work, I come home and sleep til time to go back to work.

  2. Lana,Thanks so much – great post as always. I have actually been meaning to write another disability awareness post. This is my passion and, when I get my MSW degree, I hope to work closely with individuals and families living with chronic illness and disability. Your blog is wonderful and so very important.Love,Maya

  3. Dee, Terry, and Maya – Good to hear that you will either attempt to participate or will be participating. I never imagined myself to be so outspoken about awareness so Terry and Dee, you might surprise yourselves.

  4. You can count me in, Lana. It will force me to dig deep and put to words what learning to live with a disability has done to me and those that love me. And we all know, it's not all good stuff. Thanks for raising my awareness. : ) But I'm with tharr, never thought of myself as "raise awareness" kind of girl. You've been in my thoughts and prayers lately. I'm still flaring, girlfriend. It's been one wild ride past two weeks. Looking forward to your post Saturday!

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