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Invisible Illness

Hundreds- thousands- millions of people on our planet live with invisible illness. Whether they suffer from a long term medical condition, chronic pain, or mental illness, invisible illness is tough because there's simply nothing to see.

The amount of times of the last five years I've wanted a big sign above my head saying "I'm ill, please believe me" is unreal. A woman, just this last 6 months called me out on taking up a space for my suitcase because I couldn't lift it onto the overhead rack on a crowded train. When I explained I had a bad back, she said she did too and that it was disgusting that I'd taken up a seat. I got off that train and cried; I'd been travelling three hours with around 20 books in my suitcase. I was in so much pain, and yet when I'd tried to explain (calmly and nicely) that I had a bad back, I was interrupted and disbelieved.

Today was a big day for me. I went to the cinema with a friend, and for the first time, I was able to get up after the film had finished without help, without crying, without hurting. It reminded me of how we can so easily take for granted every day movements, without a care in the world. To stand up after that long period of time sitting down, unaided used to be so tough for me. Now, I didn't even think about it. In fact, I didn't even realise until I was down by the doors that I had done it.

The next time you mutter and tut because someone is walking too slow, or getting up slowly, or doing anything you perceive as "lazy" or "idle" or "down right ignorant", think. You have no idea how that person's day is going. Give them the benefit of the doubt, and a smile. And whatever you do, don't shout at the on a train.

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