ilikebeingsickanddisabled

t h e w o r l d o f i n v i s i b l e i l l n e s s

“If you have multiple sclerosis, you’re treated with respect.”

The following assertion was made by Maxine Cunningham, founder and director of Empowered Walking Enterprise/Ministries.  My response follows.
“Dignity is not a word that we often hear in connection with how we treat persons with a chronic mental illness – YES if you have cancer, ALS, multiple sclerosis, etc. Dignity and full personhood – that we might be whole.”

As a therapist with multiple sclerosis, and a Board member of the Invisible Disabilities Association, I can assure you that those with physical illnesses, esp hidden ones like cancer, ms, lupus, Crohn’s diseaes, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, etc., are not always treated with dignity.  There are still people who will not hug someone with cancer for fear of “catching it”.  An ms client was escorted from a grocery store after she fell into a display; the assumption was she was drunk, not that she fell because of balance problems.  Read about my own experiences with people’s assumptions, misperceptions, and misunderstandings on my blog, ilikebeingsickanddisabled.com. and in my article for the government’s site, disability.gov, http://usodep.blogs.govdelivery.com/2012/07/25/looks-can-be-deceiving/.   Mental health issues are as much a part of invisible disability as physical health issues are.  Parsing them dilutes the effectiveness of advocacy.  Without ignoring the special needs of any group under the umbrella of “disabiltiy”, it might, at some point, be worthwhile to give up the “me” in exchange for the “us”.

Kathe Skinner is a Relationship Coach specializing in coaching couples whose relationship is impacted by invisible disability.  She lives in the Front Range of Colorado with her husband of 26 years, David, and their 2 hooligan cats, Petey & Lucy.
© 2012, Kathe Skinner

Categories: ALS, Cancer, Chronic illness, COPD, Disability/stigma, disabled, Effect of invisible (hidden) disability on relationship, Fibromyalgia, Health and wellness, Hearing loss, invisable, Invisable illnesses, invisible chronic illness, invisible disability, Loss of function, Macular degeneration, Migraines, Ms, Panic attacks, Parkinson's Disease, People with invisable illness, Personal experience with heart diesease, Personal Experiences, Rheumatoid Arthritis, society, Stigma, Stroke, Thyroid

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

4 replies

  1. Hiya. My apologies however can stand the
    color of the web site, It’s just awful please put it back I enjoy your posts.

  2. I just came across your blog post, very insightful. I suffer from “hidden” disabilities (hearing loss in one ear, migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic neck problems, chronic ankle problems, mild depression, etc.) When you don’t look sick it’s a challenge to explain yourself without people thinking you have mental issues, by saying oh you look fine…

    • Wow, I totally get it. Weighty enough to cope with all those health things that are “invisible”. People disregard what they can’t see, or even suspect you of malingering. Weight is so much greater when that happens. Find at least one other person who “gets it” so you can commiserate. Don’t you buy into the invisibility!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s