When you hear the word “disability” you probably think of someone with an obvious medical issue that requires assistance for daily chores and tasks. However, disabilities are not always so cut and dry. Many people suffer from serious disabilities that aren’t immediately evident to others. The Mighty explains these hidden disabilities, along with providing tips on how to be a good ally to a person with a less obvious, but still serious, medical issue.
For many people suffering from invisible disabilities, the constant questioning from friends and family is difficult to take. For example, a person may appear to be fine based on the outward appearance, even joking and laughing with others. However, this provides no insight into a person’s interior struggles. People experiencing chronic pain, which can be caused by conditions like arthritis or fibromyalgia, limitations may not be immediately obvious. In this case, some people may feel comfortable being mobile for a short period of time, such as while shopping. This limited ability provides no information on the full consequences of their disability, which may be enough to prevent a person from working for a living.
The best way to ease this burden on a person who is already faced with quite a bit is to really listen when they speak about the impact of unseen symptoms. Simply believing a person when he or she talks about an ailment can be incredibly cathartic, especially when others cast doubt on claims. In the same token, don’t demand to see proof of illness, as this is highly insulting to most people who are disabled.
Loved ones of a person with a hidden disability can also ask how to best offer accommodations during times of need. Maybe the person needs assistance shopping when their illness or condition flares up. The person might also need moral support when the disability is too much to bear psychologically or emotionally. The best thing to do in this case is to offer your support unconditionally and always take an ailing person at his or her word.