12 thoughts on “Mental Illness is Not an Invisible Illness

  • August 7, 2015 at 11:29 am

    When the word “invisible” is used in describing illnesses and stigmatized identities, it doesn’t mean that the condition/identity can’t be seen or suspected by someone knew what to look for. What it means is that under usual circumstances the person can “pass” for someone who doesn’t have this condition/identity and therefore has the choice/burden to disclose or not. Whether or not you like the term “stigma,” I’m quite certain I couldn’t keep my job if I were “out” about my psychiatric disorders at work, so I’m stuck living a double life. That’s what having an invisible illness/identity is all about, and it is true of very many of us with psychiatric disorders. Now maybe eventually we’ll have the educated, respectful public that you describe, and not need to worry about this. But in the meantime, this is the reality we’ve got.

    • August 7, 2015 at 11:34 am

      Sayingwhatgoesunsaid –

      You are correct in everything you said. I understand exactly where you are coming from and agree. I hope that someday we do have an “educated, respectful public,” but you are right, we currently do not. Many of my peers do hide their illnesses in their professional lives and that is a huge burden on them.

      Thank you for reading and commenting, it is much appreciated.

      πŸ™‚ Gabe

  • August 10, 2015 at 8:17 am

    I agree. Not only are the signs of the illness visible but also the signs of the side effects caused by the medication. I too hide at home when depressed. So people do not see the full effects. The easiest thing that my friends can see when I’m unwell is my hand tremors which get worse when I’m stressed. My friends carry my drinks from the bar as they don’t want half their pint on the floor! Having a bit of experience with BiPolar I’ve realised that two of my friends were ill with it as I could interpret the signs and asked them to see a doctor. Both have now been diagnosed. ?

    • August 10, 2015 at 10:34 am

      Thank you, Kaoos, for reading and commenting. Very good information and it is much appreciated. You helped your friends tremendously, I’m sure. Proper care and diagnosis is very important to the successful treatment of any illness. ~Gabe πŸ™‚

  • August 13, 2015 at 3:12 am

    I disagree you can not see mental illness because its a disorder of a brain but what you see is the symptoms there are many types types of mental illnesses but its not the brain itself . i was first Diagnosed with mental illness when i was 16 years shortly after leaving the forster in Ma to go live in conn I was diagnosed ewith Post Traumatic stress disorder and Bipolar there are many types of illness or diseases of the body unless you have something wrong with your skin then you can see it like i have psoriasis now that an illness that is visiable but things like mental illness you can see as a mental health client stigma is about not understanding the illness but making your judgements and opinion about us to the person who wrote this article where is mental illness

    • August 13, 2015 at 12:42 pm

      Thank you, Christina, for reading and commenting. πŸ™‚ Gabe

  • August 19, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    I never heard of mental illness as an invisible illness in this way. I have suffered from situational depression in the past and it certainly was visible by people who knew me. When my daughter began showing symptoms of anxiety and depression at 12 years old we recognized a problem right away. It took 3 years to get her properly diagnosed but her symptoms of bipolar were enough to worry her young friends, who told us when she was hiding her self harm.
    In my opinion, mental illness itself isn’t invisible, it is usually as obvious as a huge pimple on your nose. Yet the sufferer denies and you want to believe them. There is stigma attached to mental illness because just the name makes you sound “crazy”, so when you are in the early stage and you don’t know what is going on you hope what ever you are experiencing goes away on its on. I think we do that with all illnesses.
    Your bipolar symptoms may have been noticed but unmentioned because they assumed you already knew or were taking care of it. (Personally, I have no filter and blurt out stuff like that but I hear many people don’t!) I know once a person is properly medicated and going through therapy that is helpful, mental illness is easier to hide. It was for me, anyway. There are many physical illnesses that are invisible as well. I’m sure you have seen someone get out of a car with a handicap license plate and no visible handicap. You cannot see MS, fibromyalgia, arthritis and so many other painful ailments. People don’t like talking about those illnesses either, at least I don’t.

    • August 20, 2015 at 9:58 am

      Hi Suzi – Thank you so much for writing, commenting, and sharing your experiences. I really appreciate it. πŸ™‚ ~Gabe

  • August 19, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    I hear you message Gabe and it does open an interesting discussion. However, I don’t agree that stigma means that you have been discriminated against because of your mental illness. Stigma (as a mental illness advocate and sufferer) is a lesser form of discrimination due mainly to ignorance on the issues that those with a mental illness face. Stigma is more about the ‘get over it’, ‘that wasn’t really a trauma’, ‘you just need to change your thoughts’ and ‘people who commit suicide are weak’ type of thing. Discrimination is a much bigger issue (in my view). Being denied access to education, employment, accommodation or to the provision of services because of my mental illness is discrimination. I feel that blending the two (stigma & discrimination) is a big mistake. A much bigger mistake than overusing the term #stigma. I have major depressive disorder and post traumatic stress disorder. These illnesses cannot be seen. I have been evaluated by psychiatrists on seven (7) different occasions. Each report written describes my (perceived) intelligence as though it were the key to my functioning. It’s not. My struggles are real but unseen. I appreciate your taking the time to write your blog post though. I will however, continue to #SmashtheStigma of mental illness and other invisible disabilities. Cheers.

    • August 20, 2015 at 10:04 am

      Di – Thank you for your point of view. πŸ™‚ Stigma is such a multi-headed beast that I could probably write a book on it. In my opinion, when someone treats you differently for any reason — they are discriminating against you. For some reason in mental health we separate those two out: If “they” think you are violent, lazy, faking, or whatever and prevent you from doing something small (like being your friend or sitting with you at church) then that is stigma. If “they” think you are violent, lazy, faking, or whatever and prevent you from doing something large (like being hired at a job) then that is discrimination.

      It doesn’t make sense to me. But, that is my opinion. Thinking less of me simply because of a medical condition isn’t right — no matter what it is called. I know we agree on that! πŸ™‚

      Thank you so much for reading, commenting, and sharing your point of view. We need as many people talking this out as we can get. It is much appreciated.


  • August 19, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    I believe that a large percent of the population knows what Stigma means when used in a certain context, especially when a celebrity over doses, commits suicide goes away for awhile to detox etc. We live in a culture that is scared of the word crazy, however, we who suffer with the different mental disorders should be the ones that are taking a stand to educate society.

    Many of us are very creative we write poetry, essays, songs some people express their emotions through drawing. I have started to compile writings that have been submitted by people who have some form of mental illness/I really like brain disorder – not for me but for the public. Realizing that it is easy for celebrities to come out talk about their bi-polar, depression write a book etc. and it isn’t this easy for the average person to do so.

    I want to encourage people to check out the only way I know how to make a small change in the world and that is making your story, poem, song, artwork public and what it means to you. Share without Shame that’s my game plan!

    On another note I knew from the time I was 11 something about me was different, but, my parents obviously didn’t know. I got a diagnosis of Anxiety and Unipolar and became addicted to valium when I was in my thirties. When I watched the Patty Duke story I knew this was probably going to be my diagnosis so I searched for a Doctor specializing in Manic Depression and within 2 hours he agreed.

    Happy to say today is a great day, I am thankful for my great days , but, hate my rapid cycling days they are pure torment. My hope for all is to one day be free to be who you are without embarrassment and fear!

    As always with hope!

    • August 20, 2015 at 10:05 am

      El Mindful –

      THANK YOU for reading, sharing, and commenting. It means a lot to me. πŸ™‚ ~Gabe


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