What is an “invisible disability?” Is it a specific illness or condition, such as multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder, diabetes, a Chiari malformation or syringomyelia? Is it the symptoms of an illness or disability, such as pain or fatigue or neuropathy or brain fog? Why do we even use the phrase or where did it come from? Isn’t a disability just a disability, no matter if you can see it or not? Are people treated differently because their disability manifests itself visibly? Is having a disability different from being disabled? All great questions! Is someone, who has an illness or is in pain or has a disability or is disabled, a bad person who should be treated like a lesser human? I can answer that one. NO!
Twenty years ago in 1996, my wife, Sherri, described herself as someone living with an “invisible disability.” What an apt description as at the time, we had never heard of the term before? After receiving a diagnosis of primary progressive multiple sclerosis and chronic late stage Lyme disease in 1991, at the young age of 27, Sherri endured the stares and accusations and disbelief of strangers and friends that questioned how she could be disabled and still walk with seemingly unapparent outward signs of her disabilities. People would often scream at her when she parked in an accessible space or ignore her when she collapsed on the floor of a department store. So the phrase, “I have an invisible disability,” became an apt description of what she was living with. [Read more…]