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Invisible Illness Awareness Week 2016: Our Voices Need to Be Heard

Discussion in 'Phoenix Rising Articles' started by Jody, Sep 22, 2016.

  1. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    Jody submitted a new blog post:

    Invisible Illness Awareness Week 2016: Our Voices Need to Be Heard

    Never heard of Invisible Illness Awareness Week? You're not alone. Jody Smith sheds a little light to make it more visible

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    From time immemorial, people have been pushed aside and ignored for one reason or another. Nobody likes feeling invisible. That goes for the kid in the playground who doesn't get chosen for baseball, for the person overlooked by the boss, whose name is left off the group photo.

    It's also true for people who are sick, but don't look like there's anything wrong with them.

    Lisa Copen founded Rest Ministries in 1996 after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. She went on to establish Invisible Illness Awareness Week in 2002.

    Invisible Illness Awareness Week runs from September 26 to October 1, 2016.

    Lisa has made a difference for others who are ill, and has helped to create a community for herself and others in the same boat, cut off from the rest of the world.

    She wasn't going to be invisible, and the hordes of other sick people w suffering in silence, often without acknowledgement or help, were not going to be invisible either. Not if she could help it. And over the years, both her vehicles have shown great staying power and growth. People like Lisa have helped the invisible illness community immeasurably.

    Many conditions are described as being invisible because the effects are not obvious to the casual observer. ADHD, allergies, asthma, autism, brain injuries, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, depression, diabetes, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, IBS , lupus and ME/CFS are just a few of the invisible illnesses and disabilities.

    Disabled World reports that almost 50 percent of Americans contend with some kind of invisible condition.

    As you and I know all too well, there's invisible, and then there's invisible. And ME/CFS is invisible in another way as well. It is still ignored by most of the powers that be ... treated as if it doesn't exist. The research isn't forthcoming, the honest evaluation isn't there and misdirection and maltreatment for vulnerable patients abound.

    Some invisible illnesses are more invisible than others, and we know that better than most. When ME/CFS is talked about, it's a crap shoot as to whether it's going to be anything we can stand to hear.

    Are we going to again be called a group of malcontents, of fakers, of stupid people who don't know enough to move around a little? Are we going to be called hostile, vexatious or troublemakers who don't know their place?

    Will we be denigrated because many of us can't work or take care of ourselves? Chastized for not pulling our weight? Given the cold shoulder because we don't help with Christmas parties and family get-togethers?

    Are we viewed with suspicion because we look fine and yet do nothing? What are we trying to get away with, or from? What are we trying to prove?

    Surely what we are saying can't be true. Nobody can be THAT sick. An hour of some kind of effort surely doesn't put someone to bed for months at a time. What is this game?

    So an unwelcome invisibility and lack of acceptance, lack of respect, has covered us like a cloak.

    Every person with an invisible illness has experienced some of this. And every person with a disrespected illness like ME/CFS has experienced a great deal of it. But we don't have to cooperate with this dismissal, and we refuse to do so.

    About 65 percent of Americans who search online for answers have one or multiple chronic conditions, according to the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Project.

    Events and pushes like Invisible Illness Awareness Week are a way for us to step up -- even if we cannot physically stand -- and be heard. They are a way for us to join forces and no longer be stuck alone in a bedroom or staring out a living room window on an unconcerned world that is passing us by.

    This era of electronic gadgetry makes it possible for even some of the weakest and brain-disabled of us to reach out and make contact.

    We talk to each other. And we talk about each other. We are shored up by support and have the temerity to open our mouths to people in our own small "real" worlds.

    We stop apologizing so much. We say why we can't come, or go, or work. We describe our symptoms to people who want to hear us.

    We begin to believe once more that we have a right to take up space and to use up resources, to have an impact on those around us, just like a "normal" person -- or just like we used to before being enshrouded by an invisible illness.

    We write blogs, and hope other sick people will read them and be nourished somehow, and that healthy people will read them and become enlightened about how the other (invisible) half lives.

    We join forums and have conversations about how we manage our difficulties, how we feel about being overlooked, what our cat did today that was so funny and is it safe to colour my hair?

    We learn from each other's research, from each other's doctor visits that have been helpful, from each other's experience. We drink in the encouragement, the love, the acceptance from others who know how tough things are, and know how parched we are.

    And we turn to face that outer world with our Awareness Weeks and expect our voices to be heard, expect our struggles to be respected, expect some action to be taken on our behalf.

    The theme for this year's Invisible Illness Awareness Week is "This is Chronic Illness."

    Think about marking this Awareness Week of 2016 by writing about your illness or making a video. Put what matters to you on your Facebook page, on Illness websites, on blogs and forums. Some of you have already been doing this for some time. Keep going.

    If you share your story someplace online, sending a link to the Invisible Illness Awareness Week's Facebook page would be great encouragement for Lisa and friends.

    Sources:

    About RM.
    http://restministries.com/about/about-rm

    Invisible Illness Week Coming (Sponsored by Rest Ministries).
    http://restministries.com/2013/08/invisible-illness-week

    Invisible Illness Awareness Week facebook page.
    https://www.facebook.com/InvisibleIllnessWeek/about/?entry_point=page_nav_about_item&tab=overview

    Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week Was September 10-16, 2012.
    http://www.empowher.com/wellness/co...lness-awareness-week-was-september-10-16-2012

    National Invisible Illness Awareness Week: Sept. 9-15, 2013.
    http://www.empowher.com/wellness/content/national-invisible-illness-awareness-week-sept-9-15-2013

    Join the Invisible Fight: It's Invisible Illness Awareness Week.
    http://www.empowher.com/wellness/content/join-invisible-fight-its-invisible-illness-awareness-week

    We Honor Invisible Illness Awareness Week, Sept. 26 - Oct. 1, 2016.
    http://www.empowher.com/chronic-fat...sible-illness-awareness-week-sept-26-oct-1-20

    Photo via unsplash/Pixabay

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    Phoenix Rising is a registered 501 c.(3) non profit. We support ME/CFS and NEID patients through rigorous reporting, reliable information, effective advocacy and the provision of online services which empower patients and help them to cope with their isolation.

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    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
  2. lauluce

    lauluce as long as you manage to stay alive, there's hope

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    how to get rid of a minority? simple! MAKE INVISIBLE. Better yet, make their members invisible among themselves, so ashamed and fearful about speaking about what happens to them that two of these persons could meet at a bar, chat for hours, and never realise they are on the same boat! At least here in my country, Argentina, they succeeded at doing this with ME suffers. We are isolated one from another, we don't even now how many of us we are, as nobody is diagnosed and as I said before, everybody is afraid to speak, to not be psychologically beaten with speeches about mental problems, lack of will, victimisation, etc. Together, we are one, we are STRONG. Separated this ways, we are just a thousand cries in the dark that nobody would ever hear... here, they're winning
     
  3. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    lauluce,

    We'll just have to keep raising our voices together.
     
    lauluce likes this.

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