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Friends and Relatives Who Feel You Are “Fine” or “Do Not See”

Today is Veterans Day. I listened to a man that was in a wheelchair since a Vietnam battle in the 60’s. His limits are obvious, but even a person in a wheelchair has medical issues or limits beyond what you see. You have never gone shopping to ten stores in a wheelchair or may not be the close friend or caretaker who helps with some limits associated with the wheelchair.

You have a relative or friend that seems OK. Or you feel they should be better. But please appreciate; many people are ill in invisible ways. Further, in modern broad medicine and the healing arts it can take 30 years to get the right diagnosis.

As one awareness campaign writer said:

It is usually difficult if not impossible for others to perceive just how painful it can be to live with a severe chronic illness whether it is cancer, diabetes, or Lyme disease with other tick infections. People struggling with Lyme can be extremely debilitated but look completely “normal.”

It’s always a challenge to try and convey one’s experience of illness through any media. In an article in Psychology Today entitled, “Turning Straw into Gold,” Toni Bernhard explains the dilemma that people with an invisible illness often face when presenting themselves publicly. Viewers of the “We are the 300,000″ photo campaign should keep this dilemma in mind when viewing the photographs. Specifically, this is a discussion of the 300,000 the CDC admits have Lyme each year:

The dilemma is how do we “present” ourselves to the world. Should we spruce ourselves up and risk people erroneously thinking we can participate fully in whatever they’re doing? This is particularly a dilemma during the holidays and at family gatherings. People suffering from chronic pain or illness will take great care to look their best for everyone, only to be criticized for not pitching in more with the cooking and clean-up. The alternative is to stay in our sweats which can lead to feelings of guilt that we’re letting ourselves go and not doing enough to lift our spirits.

We’re often misjudged by others if they see us looking nice or being active in any way. Healthy people tend to assume it’s all or nothing: we’re either sick or we’re not; we’re either in pain or we’re not. And so, if they see us doing anything “normal,” they assume we’re 100% well. This has happened to me many times. Someone will see me at an espresso place with a friend and assume I’ve recovered, unaware that I came from the bed and will collapse on it after the visit. People aren’t deliberately being insensitive. They just don’t know.

Primary Ideas From Lyme300000 Campaign at:

Bank Towers, Tamiami Trail, Naples, FL
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