Tomorrow, September 26th to October 2nd, is the start of Invisible Awareness Week. This week is to bring to light the many invisible illnesses out there, the mental illnesses that we do not see. As a person who battles Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Deep Depressive Disorder I felt it might be right to for me to talk about what having an invisible illness is like for me.
I was diagnosed with Clinical Depression when I was 19 years old. This was following the tragic death of my mother at age 11. I was later diagnosed with Chronic PTSD and Deep Depressive Disorder after being in an abusive marriage for 15 years.
So what has living with an invisible illness been like? Let me explain.
Living with an invisible illness has meant, to me;
I can never assume someone will make an accommodation for me. I have to be my own advocate for what I need. If you can’t see the ailment often you may not know or will forget what someone is fighting. As a result I have to be really aware of what I need and tell others.
There are times when I have to back out of engagements. I have to put my health first and sometimes that means turning down helping at the Christmas Tea or Bake Sale. It also means there may be people who do not understand why I am not there, but I have to look after me.
I make less money. Before my diagnosis of PTSD and Deep Depressive Disorder I worked in the Corporate World and made a good living for my family. Since my diagnosis my doctors have taken me off of work permanently and I live on Disability. This has meant a considerably lower income and ironically a loss in benefits (just when I needed them most).
It means my fiance is asked why don’t I work? I am 43 years old and I don’t look like I am sick so why am I a useless bum (well maybe that is not exactly what they say, but it is how I feel when they inquire)?
It means having more heart to hearts with my kids in my bedroom, while I rest, than anywhere else in the house.
It means taking every single day one day or one moment at a time.
It means finding a strength within me, that I didn’t know I had, to face the many symptoms of PTSD and Deep Depressive Disorder.
It means sometimes I feel like a failure because sometimes that strength is just not there and I struggle to do the simplest of tasks.
It means praying harder on the tough days and trustin that God has got me.
It means wondering if my illness is shorting my kids of their mother or my fiance of his partner?
It also means I have met some of the most amazing people who also fight invisible illnesses and they give me hope.
At the end of the day these are the cards I have been dealt and so I deal with them. It’s not completely the end of the world. I have learned how to cope during the bad days and to speak up for what I need. This battle is not how I envisioned my life to be at 43 years old, but I still have air in my lungs and a beat to my heart so there is a silver lining.
During this week I encourage you to join a worldwide event in support of Invisible Illness Awareness Week. Look up your illness online. Each one has an awareness ribbon in a certain colour. Take your colour and paint or marker a happy face on your hand,wrist or arm. Bring awareness to your invisible fight! #IIWK16 #InvisibleFight #InvisibleAwarenessWeek