Saturday, 3 October 2015

Invisible Illness Awareness | Health

Invisible Illness Awareness

Today is the last day of Invisible Illness Awareness Week (or is it tomorrow?) and I've been planning to write this post for days now, but having a chest infection has meant that I've had to shuffle all my posts around and my organisation has been all over the place. Better late than never, right? :) This post is going to be more personal than anything I've written on my blog so far, because I'm going to tell you all about my own experience with invisible chronic illness. Invisible illness as the name suggests is a term used to categorise medical conditions (both physical and mental health conditions) that are barely visible on the outside, but they cause the person affected a lot of pain, discomfort and have an array of life-changing symptoms. People with invisible illness are often faced with judgement from people who do not understand or narrow-minded people who say things like '...but you don't look sick'.

I'm very thankful for the massive community of supportive and understanding people all over the internet sharing positive, motivational messages and showing their support for people who have invisible illnesses. When I first developed the symptoms of my own health conditions, reading encouraging posts really helped me, and then I also discovered the 'spoonie' community Many of you will have heard of spoonies, but for those who haven't it is term that people living with a chronic illness identify with and it is based on the Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino. Read more about what the Spoon Theory is here. Finding this community on tumblr, and later on instagram, has honestly helped me hold myself together on my worst days & find people who know what it truly feels like to deal with chronic illness. 

The adorable illustration above is by the very talented artist, Emm Roy (check out her tumblr). It's important for everyone to remember that you are strong and you should be proud of yourself for everything you've endured and all that you've overcome! Posts like these help me when I'm personally struggling to deal with my invisible illnesses. I have generalised anxiety disorder and depression, as well as irritable bowel syndrome and a yet-to-be-officially-diagnosed chronic pain condition which I believe is fibromyalgia (but it's proving ridiculously difficult to be referred to a specialist for diagnosis! >.< ). 

I experienced a period of depression when I was in high school due to being bullied and as a consequence I developed a very low self-esteem. After meeting an amazing group of people outside of school which helped my confidence grow, my depression seemed to go away. It unfortunately retuned in 2010... I went through a breakup, and the heartbreak accompanied with the stress of applying to university, college work and other various personal problems brought my depression back and it's never really gone away since then. I finally started uni in 2012; just after that I developed irritable bowel syndrome (although I've had digestive issues since I was 10 years old) and it really affected my life. I experienced social anxiety, and over time it worsened until I was suffering from anxiety in pretty much all areas of my life. As for my pain condition, I've been having symptoms since my early teens that have gotten worse over the years. At first, I thought I was experiencing the aches and pains that are a symptom of depression, but I now get chronic muscle & join pain, fatigue and lots of other health issues. Do you have any of the health issues that I do, or anything similar? It would be great to chat to some bloggers who are fellow spoonies.

Dealing with invisible illness can be extremely challenging at times. I'm in pain a lot and I get exhausted very quickly. I have to cancel plans all the time and I'm often too ill to go out. My conditions get worse when I'm stressed or randomly 'flare up' for what seems like no reason at all. I'm finding it more and more difficult to do all the things I used to, and I'm hoping blogging will help me focus on the positive things in my life that make me happy!

   ^ I thought this was a super cute way to finish my post! It's from another awesome artist called Jacqueline (check out her website here). 

To anyone who has an invisible illness, whether mental or physical, stay strong!

& to everyone who took the time to write or post something on social media this last week to help spread awareness, thankyou :) 

Thankyou for reading!


Would you like me to blog more about life as a spoonie in the future


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