Visibly healthy, or invisible ill…?
2022, September, 16 Øyvind Nyborg

Visibly healthy, or invisible ill…?

“It would be too easy to say that I feel invisible. Instead, I feel painfully visible, and entirely ignored.”
― David Levithan

We see them running in the mountains, we see them shopping at the mall. Those who are not in work, but who ideally should be. They are healthy, they say. If they can do that, then surely they can also work?

In any case, they are visibly healthy. Or is it really an invisible illness? What exactly is the difference?

If there is something we like to talk about, it is other people's illnesses. Or their apparent lack thereof. Thoughtless and hurtful comments about other people's ability to work or their lack of participation in various things often come from ignorance.

Ignorance is also a human right, I live with that, but a lack of understanding and empathy must be opposed to the full.

Everywhere you turn, those with invisible illnesses are stigmatized. This should not be the case in today's enlightened society. Unfortunately, all you have to do is look at the various comment fields to see that we have a long way to go.

What is it about all those people who have this "bad-mouthing" attitude that enables them to pass other people off with just a glance?

Damn, they're good. They should immediately get a job as a diagnostic tool in a healthcare company, they will potentially save society billions of dollars!

Many people struggle with diseases that cannot be seen by the naked eye. It can be cancer, mental disorders, migraines, fibromyalgia, rheumatism, IBS, or multiple sclerosis - the list is long.

Many of these diseases can range from mild to very serious in degrees. Many will also occur at the same time in several people, and still, be invisible. What they have in common is necessary for pleasurable activity, prevention and social participation. For many, this problem is to get through the day and alleviate symptoms.

Equally important is energy saving. To get through the day, you should use your strength in suitable doses and with the highest possible well-being factor. In other words, meaningful activities are suitable to give those who are ill more energy in everyday life.

Many believe that the sick can do this in their work situation, instead of being on sick leave. I do not disagree, as long as it is possible to arrange the workplace appropriately, and that a workplace is a place where you find social joy and development.

But for many who fall ill, it is very tiring to feel like a burden in a job that you are unable to perform to the full. It thus potentially adds an extra stone to the load you already feel.

I have not always been open about my own difficulties, and that has maybe made it worst for others to understand. But not everyone is able to be open, we have to respect that. If you see an apparently healthy and upbeat person climbing the mountains, swimming in the sea, traveling on holiday in the south, or shopping at the shopping mall during the day, remember that you don’t know everything.

For all you know, the journey to the South is essential for people with rheumatic disorders. For all you know, the trip to the mall is prescribed by a psychologist to challenge anxiety. For all you know, the person you see on the mountain is out on vital training rides in relation to cancer - whether it is preventive, strengthening or rehabilitative.

Then there's no reason for your trash talk, is there?

Take care of your fellow humans. Understand that there are many different reasons why someone gets sick and still does things you don't associate with being away from work. That is between them and their doctor. Interpreters with supernatural abilities, who can "see" that others are healthy, have nothing to do with it.

Being invisible ill must be treated like all other visible conditions. With empathy, care, and understanding. We have a damned duty to do that if we have common decency.

Be careful what you say and what attitudes you advocate for those around you. We have a responsibility not to increase the burden of being ill. Even if you are apparently visibly healthy, it is therefore quite possible that you are invisibly ill.

“Just because you don't see something doesn't mean it isn't there. The stars are always there.”
― R.C. Lewis


Øyvind Nyborg

Øyvind Nyborg

I am not a blogger! I just put my thoughts into writing some times...
It's like capturing snippets of life at various stages, offering me a window into my own evolution.

Øyvind Nyborg