Have you ever seen someone park in a disabled apace and look perfectly healthy as they step out of the car? You may think, “They’re not disabled, they can walk just fine! They must have that badge illegally.” What many people do not pause to think about is that perhaps that person may have a chronic illness. An illness that could cause a 10m walk across a car park to feel like a marathon sprint whilst every muscle screams in protest. A wheelchair isn’t the only indication of an illness or disability.

A chronic illness is a health condition or a disease which is persistent and has a long-lasting impact on the patient. We speak about a condition being chronic when it lasts for more than three months. Some of these illnesses can be controlled through lifestyle changes (diet and exercise) or they may respond well to a variety of medications. Some may not respond to anything and doctors are only able to alleviate individual symptoms.

The invisible illness sufferer is often labelled as lazy while disease wreaks havoc inside their body. When trying to explain their disability, sufferers are frequently met with the response, “but you look so good.”  This is, perhaps, one of the most frustrating things to hear for those who suffer with these invisible illnesses. Unsolicited advice on how to get better only adds to the exasperation.
— mollysfund.org

When talking about chronic illness, we must also speak about invisible illnesses. People with invisible disabilities and illnesses, such as chronic pain or fatigue, are often accused of faking or imagining their disabilities as they are not easily recognised by the onlooker.

Many people living with a invisible or chronic illness are still able to be active in their hobbies, work and sports. On the other hand, some struggle just to get through their day at work and some cannot work at all.

“People have such high expectations of folks like you [with invisible disabilities], like, ‘come on, get your act together.’ but they have such low expectations of folks like me in wheelchairs, as though it’s expected that we can’t do much”
— Joni Eareckson Tada, international disability expert

In this section, we will talk about four chronic, and often invisible, illnesses- Functional Neurological Disorders, Fibromyalgia, Non Epileptic Seizures and ME/CFS- however, we are always looking to expand our horizons and relevance to our readers so, if there is a condition that you would like to see discussed here, please contact us.

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