I once heard someone ask this question and it really hit me…Do you ever sit in the parking lot and see someone park in a handicap spot and watch them get out of their car and wonder why they have a handicap sticker when they are walking perfectly fine?
More than 125 million Americans have at least one chronic condition. Maybe it’s diabetes, fibromyalgia, celiac and/or many other conditions. Many of these chronic conditions are typically not visible to you and me when we look at them. Some may say: “Oh they must be exaggerating” or “They don’t “look sick”.”
A friend of mine who is dealing with her own disease, different than celiac, says, “this is an invisible disease. For the most part, looking at me you’d have no idea I was sick. There are many of us out there.”
For me, dealing with celiac, it is also an invisible disease. When you see me, you would have no idea I am constantly struggling with various aspects of the disease. One is the constant worry and anxiety over the foods I eat. Worried if gluten could be hidden. Every meal is a worry that I could get glutened and be sick for weeks. Worried that I may be eating gluten and not know it and maybe not having physical symptoms but am having “ghost symptoms” and internally my body is in a war slowing destroying my organs. And there are the times that I am accidentally glutened and may be in pain, have dizziness so bad it makes me nauseous, and a long list of other uncomfortable symptoms.
Being “glutened” is not all symptoms you see on the outside. Being gluten free is extremely important to those with celiac because of the extreme damage gluten causes our organs possibly leading to other diseases.
For me, I carry on. I continue to go to bootcamp or train for my next half marathon. I continue playing with my boys and taking them to school, karate and baseball. I put on a happy face and do my best to be present for those around me. There are times it’s a struggle to continuously tell myself you are not alone.
I am NOT saying this for any pity.
My sole purpose for this blog is to spread awareness. I want to spread awareness of what celiac is and what is means to live with it. I want to help those that maybe struggle with anxiety and worry like I do. I want to help those who may be in a similar situation. They may have celiac or another “invisible disease” and are dealing with the judgement of loved ones and strangers telling them “well you look fine.”
Maybe we do. Maybe we do look fine. We all have our stuff. Someone may be dealing with money problems or worrying about their child struggling in school. Those people “look fine.”
Be kind. Be aware that everyone has their stuff. Might those “things” seem small and minuscule to you, could be BIG things to them.
We might not know why that person has a handicap parking sticker even if they’re “walking perfectly fine.” But why is that our place to judge whether they “deserve” handicap parking?
Remember the beginning to my article Alive, where I referenced that the chances of us being who we are as a person is one in 400 trillion!!! We all are here in this exact spot for a reason. We are who we are for a reason. We all need to come together and stop judging everyone.
For those with an “invisible disease,” I get it. Maybe my invisible disease is different than yours, but I understand the frustration. I’m wishing and hoping this decade gives us all more awareness for those around us and brings kindness and respect. Let’s all celebrate and live our best life!
“Never allow anyone to take away your sparkle. Be kind and laugh and love often.”