Those with an invisible illness or disability often face judgment from others, who may refuse to acknowledge their condition is real or who simply may not realise that they have some type of impairment and fail to adjust the way they interact accordingly.
Some people with invisible disabilities may get challenged when parking in a disability spot, others like those suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome, may be accused of being lazy, and people may wrongly think someone with dysphasia after a stroke can’t understand what they’re saying while they just have difficulty expressing themselves. It can also be hard to objectively measure fatigue or pain.
All this can have a negative impact on the person with the invisible condition’s lifestyle. It can lead to mental illness and to avoidance of social interactions, which in turn can make the invisible condition worse.
If you are doubtful about your illness/disability, then this can cause you to resist treatment or not follow through with a treatment plan. This could have serious consequences.
In addition to the frustration felt by those around us, people can feel guilty for not showing clear signs of our illness and struggle to ask for help, partially out of tiredness for having to explain again and again why they need help when there’s apparently nothing physically wrong with them.
Pain can be one of the most difficult 'invisible’ symptoms to describe and manage. Only the person experiencing it knows how it feels. It has an emotional element – it can cause distress, fear, anger and frustration, which in turn affect how you deal with it.
Pain can be exhausting and can affect your mood and your ability to do everyday activities.
In research by Relationships Australia NSW, in 32% of 480 couples followed up over a six month period, one of them had a chronic pain problem, and one-quarter (24%) of them said that chronic pain had a moderate to severely negative impact on their relationship.
While about 65% were taking regular pain medications and 30% had taken time off work in the previous six months due to pain, only 15% of the sample had actually been to a specialist pain clinic.
This indicates that many Australians aren’t yet taking advantage of pain specialist services which could significantly improve their lives.
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