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Health isn’t just skin-deep

Did you know that approximately 96% of people who live with an illness in the U.S. have an illness that is invisible? That means that literally millions of people in the U.S. alone walk around looking outwardly fine, but inside, suffer from an invisible, chronic condition. Being diagnosed with an invisible illness is only the beginning – the real problems start after that.

The divorce rate for those with chronic illnesses is over 75%, and depression occurs at a 20% higher rate in people who are chronically ill. Physical illness and chronic pain factor in up to 70% of suicides, and 50% of those suicides occur in people under the age of 35.

I was diagnosed three years ago, but I’ve been living with my chronic condition much longer than that. I’m pretty settled in to my new normal. So why start a blog about living with a chronic condition? Why throw a bunch of statistics around? Why start a movement now?

I recently read an article that I strongly encourage everyone to read:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32863895/ns/health-health_care/t/school-gives-chronically-ill-students-chance/

It got me thinking: why are there not programs like this everywhere? I go to the University of North Texas, and they do have a disabilities office, but they don’t really cater to students like myself. I am not disabled. When I filled out the forms they gave me, I checked “no” to everything:
Does your condition interfere with lecture-style learning: no
Do you need extra time to complete tests: no
Do you need special in class accommodations, such as hearing aids, etc: NO!
But I do need something! I need understanding! I need to know I’m not alone! I need awareness!

Well, if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.

I’m going to start updating this site with stories from my own life and experience with illness, and I hope to interview others to feature on this blog as well. I’d like to get a lot of people subscribing and interested, because my ultimate goal is to organize some live events at UNT to raise awareness of invisible illness.

If you are not a student at UNT, but you’d like to raise awareness at your school, you can do it too!

Today, I started a blog and a movement.

Do I Look Sick?

Subscribe to the blog and like us on facebook!

JOIN THE MOVEMENT!

((statistics via invisibleillnessweek.com/media-toolkit/statistics))

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About rachelmeeks

My name is Rachel Meeks. I have endometriosis, an incurable pain condition, IBS, a digestive illness, and PCOS, which causes irregular periods and infertility. After keeping my illnesses a secret, I started to get upset about how my fellow sick people were being mistreated because of ignorance. I knew that I'd need to stand up, make some noise, wear my heart on my sleeve, and admit that I am not well to make a difference.

7 responses to “Health isn’t just skin-deep

  1. Thanks for checking out my blog girl! I love your idea here for this blog. I have a friend with a very chronic and currently debilitating illness that I want to share this with – she is really in need of some support and others to relate to right now.

    Have you heard of the blog Fibromy-Awesome? http://25pillsaday.wordpress.com/

    I stumbled on it randomly a few weeks ago – and although I really have nothing in common with this girl and no illness at all, I have loved reading her blog. She brings so much authenticity into her writing about her experience of living with illness – along with a great sense of humor! Just thought I would share! =)

    • Hey, thanks so much! Please do share this blog with your friend, I know how important it is to just know you aren’t alone. 🙂 I will def check out the blog you linked, too! Maybe we can even have her on here for an interview sometime.

      Thanks again!

  2. Erin Taylor ⋅

    So if it doesn’t interfere with lecture style learning, it doesn’t take you longer to complete work in class, and you do not need special accommodations, then what does UNT need to do for you?

    • If you read through the article I linked, you’ll see a great example of the kind of program I’m talking about. People with chronic conditions may need to miss long periods of class at a time if symptoms flare up unexpectedly. The program at DePaul ensures that you won’t need to drop a class in that scenario.

      I plan to write an entire entry on my problem with the program at UNT, but to sum up, by UNT guidelines I am “not sick,” so when I do need to miss class I generally have to “fake sick,” saying I have the flu or something. Teachers, at least the ones I’ve had, are NOT as lenient when you’re sick with something they’ve never heard of as opposed to the flu.

      The biggest problem is really with work. I work on campus, and when I brought up my illness I was actually made fun of. It’s an issue of ignorance more than an issue of accommodation. But more to come. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Invisible but Not Silent! « Do I Look Sick?

  4. WordsFallFromMyEyes ⋅

    This is fascinating. I love how you pull facts together.

    It would be awful to be ill and then have your partner divorce you. Dreadful.

    Great post – very engaging.

    • Thanks very much! Glad you took a look around. 🙂 This is one of my oldest posts but still one of my favorites. Sadly, divorce is so common that I’ve come to know many bloggers who have experienced this first-hand. 😦 But I also know many who have loving spouses who have stood by them through it all. We need more of that!

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