With some illnesses, it's obvious the person is suffering. But with others, the way a person looks on the outside can deceive the eyes into thinking everything is fine.
No one is immune to these invisible illnesses, not even celebrities. Recently, musician superstar Lady Gage had to cancel her tour because of her own health hardships.
After suffering from chronic pain, Lady Gaga was forced to cancel her tour. Her pain is caused by fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia "is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues" and women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men, according to the Mayo Clinic. She wrote a letter to her fans, apologizing and explaining the situation:
"I have always been honest about my physical and mental health struggles. Searching for years to get to the bottom of them. It is complicated and difficult to explain, and we are trying to figure it out," Gaga wrote. "As I get stronger and when I feel ready, I will tell my story in more depth, and plan to take this on strongly so I can not only raise awareness, but expand research for others who suffer as I do, so I can help make a difference."
Because of her own struggles with fibromyalgia, Lady Gaga created a new documentary that premiered on Netflix in September, "Gaga: Five Foot Two," which shows how she deals with her chronic pain. She hopes to raise awareness and to help others who also have fibromyalgia.
Scary Mommy shared a quote from Lady Gaga from a press conference at the Toronto Film Festival, where she explained her need to open up about her own trials with fibromyalgia: "There is an element and a very strong piece of me that believes pain is a microphone. My pain does me no good unless I transform it into something that is. So I hope people watching it who do struggle with chronic pain know that they're not alone."
There is strength in reaching out to others because your voice gives a voice to the voiceless. People can know they're not alone when others share their own struggles, whether it's the same, or something similar.
Unfortunately, fibromyalgia isn't the only invisible disease. People you would never suspect suffer from a wide range of invisible diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, depression or other mental illness, Multiple Sclerosis, and Lupus. These are all conditions people may have, but you can't tell just by looking at the person.
We need to show more compassion when friends or family struggle with invisible illnesses—whether we know they have them or not. Perhaps they show signs of fatigue, or may need to cancel plans because they're in pain. Instead of showing frustration, ask how you can help.
Wendy is a regular contributor for familyshare.com and does media reviews. Website: https://survivorshopeandhealing.wordpress.com/ for victims of sexual abuse. Blog: https://wendyejessen.wordpress.com Twitter: @WendyJessen