The Beginners Guide: Coping with a Hidden Disability

Not all disabilities are visible. Right now, you could be sitting next to someone who is living with a form of significant impairment, and you would never know by appearances alone. Alternatively, you yourself may be one of many people with an invisible disability, trying to navigate the challenges of daily life.

Either way, it is both advisable and beneficial to gain an understanding of the coping mechanisms, and the ways in which people living with invisible disabilities overcome the obstacles of daily life.

Seeking help:

It is often the case that those with a hidden disability, disease or disorder do not seek the help and support they so desperately need.

If, for example, no one sees your need to repeatedly check the front door before leaving (OCD), or that you have to sleep for an entire day after a brief shopping trip (Chronic fatigue), or that you need a glass of vodka before leaving home (Alcoholism); a genuine disability can be easily dismissed as nothing important/serious. Thus you endure, often alone, and continue with life and the issues associated with invisible disabilities/disorders.

Though your condition is not visible, it will inevitably impact and affect your quality of life and, to an extent, the lives of those around you. Sadly, it isn’t something that will just go away on its own accord either. Therefore, it is vital to seek help and advice. Whether that is finding somewhere like the Ana Treatment Centres, visiting the doctor to be screened for a particular condition, or even contacting a charity to assist with acquiring an official diagnosis.

Telling friends and family:

Informing friends and family of your hidden disability/disorder/illness can be another major challenge to overcome. You may worry that you won’t be believed, or that your nearest and dearest think you are just being lazy or making it up. Furthermore, you may not wish to bother or burden them. Perhaps you feel too embarrassed or self-conscious to share and openly discuss such a vulnerable part of your identity with others.

Of course, the decision to let people in your life know about your condition needs to come from you. It is important to remember that it’s completely fine if you don’t want certain people to know. You will find though, as a general rule, those who truly care will take the time to find out more about your disability/disorder/illness, and support you in any way they can.

Boundaries and limits:

When it comes to invisible disabilities, the expectations of the outside world, and even your demands on yourself, can often be in direct contrast to what you are able to do. This isn’t to say you should self-impose limitations and restrictions.

There are many, many disabled people out there pushing boundaries and living exciting, adventurous and fulfilling lives!

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people to react with confusion or frustration when your hidden condition dictates that you cancel/change your plans at the last minute. In this situation, it is advisable to draw on all your self-confidence and establish personal boundaries rather than adapting to the demands of other people. Finally, try to avoid conforming to pressure and societal expectations.

1 thought on “The Beginners Guide: Coping with a Hidden Disability”

  1. Well written again Carrie and good examples of the ‘invisible’ disabilities. With people like you writing and sharing this advice and these stories we can only become a more understanding and empathetic society.

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