May 12th is International Awareness Day for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome(CFS), Fibromyalgia (FM), Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) and Gulf War Syndrome (GWS). These illnesses are collectively known as Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases (CIND). Find more information about these illnesses here.

These are all invisible illnesses. The kind that people are skeptical about. If you can’t see it, is it real? By the time one is diagnosed, they have usually seen numerous specialists, had many tests performed,  and months if not years have passed before a diagnosis. Only to be told there is no cure, only treatment, symptom management and self-care. Many people struggle with continuing to go to work for years, until finally sick days become short-term leave, which becomes long-term disability.

People make comments that they would never say to someone with a visible disability. Such as you look just fine, you just need to exercise, have you tried _______, etc. A colleague said to me, “I don’t really know much about fibromyalgia,” and then I briefly shared some details. That was cool. She didn’t know, and now she does. She didn’t try to judge what she didn’t know. Awesome! So much better than this: “Oh, I think that’s a mental thing.” See the difference?!

Unfortunately, not all doctors are supportive either. Here is the link for the clinical case definition for medical professionals. It’s safe to say that not all doctors have read this document.

If you know, or don’t know, about these illnesses, there is so much information online and in books. There’s no excuse for ignorant comments. If you don’t understand, ask. Do a simple search online. If you are totally not interested, that’s ok too. But keep the judging to yourself. Thank you!

 

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