The Challenges Of Living With An Invisible Illness

By Angie Collins-Burke, RN, and Suzanne Cronkwright


  • Those with an invisible illness or disability often face continual judgment from others.
  • Symptoms such as fatigue and brain fog can lead to feelings of anger, isolation, and helplessness.
  • Coping skills include lowering your expectations, picking your battles, and practicing self-compassion.

I didn’t give much thought to this topic until I experienced my stroke. Suddenly I was coping with a brain injury, fatigue, anxietydepressionchronic pain, and epilepsy. But as I struggled physically, I looked perfectly fine to the outside world.

An invisible disability or illness is simply a medical and/or psychological condition that isn’t obvious to others. Aside from the challenges of facing each day, one of the most difficult and often hurtful consequences is the lack of understanding from others. Those with invisible disabilities are frequently faced with comments, judgments, and rude questions. Some people may perceive us as lazy. The reality is that we are trying to deal with a condition(s) that leaves us feeling drained, mentally and physically.

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