Living with Invisible Disability

What is an Invisible Disability?

These are disabilities, injuries, illnesses or conditions that impact on the sufferers life but are not obvious to other people. This can be very frustrating for the sufferer and others around them.

Although distressing for all sufferers it can be particularly so for those of school or working age. Sufferers can feel (and be treated) like a fraud. Things are often said without thought and can be really hurtful. Even if not said it is often what sufferers believe is being said or thought.

  • ‘What, you’ve got a bad back?’ I’ve had a really bad back too, but I just manned up, took the pills and kept going to work!’
  • ‘Why aren’t you at work/school? There looks nothing wrong with you!’
  • ‘Why are you getting special treatment? It’s not fair, there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re just making more work for everyone else!’
  • ‘Sciver, you’re just lazy and want the benefits!’

The difficulty is that, yes some people do exaggerate about their symptoms but I will leave them to their own conscience (or lack of), I am only interested in those with genuine conditions. Conditions such as:

What sort of conditions?

  • Mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, major depression, schizophrenia, anxiety etc.
  • Brain injury
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chronic dizziness
  • Vision related
  • Hearing related
  • and many more

All invisible disabilities come with their own challenges. In many cases, sufferers everyday lives or work lives are affected, but with care, understanding and reasonable adaptations, those challenges can be overcome.

overcoming challenges
Overcoming challenges

Speak up

However, if a sufferer doesn’t speak up and make others aware of the challenges they are facing, then others can’t be held responsible for not making allowances. It is not always easy though, to tell people that you suffer from a condition that may need procedures put into place in order to manage them effectively.

Sufferers may worry that people will think differently of them or think they are making a fuss. Well, to be honest, that is their problem not the sufferers. This is especially so where Health and Safety is concerned. Consider what may happen if a sufferer can’t hear a fire alarm, vehicles moving or spoken instructions. Being alone and having an epileptic episode. Not able to read warning signs or written instructions. Has to take medication at set times throughout the day. Needs to eat at certain times or is allergic to certain foods. The consequences can quite literally be deadly.

The message is clear

If you have an invisible disability, then please speak up. This could well save your life. Likewise, if somebody tells you they have an invisible disability, take a moment to think about how hard it may have been for them to tell you. Consider what can be done to help them, not just to make their tasks easier but maybe save their life.

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Thanks for reading

Justin – founder of