Shhhh… Don’t Tell Anyone You’re Sick

Do you feel hopeless as you deal with your chronic illness and pain? Do you feel like a second class citizen?

There has been a phenomenon, particularly for those who suffer with invisible chronic illness and pain, that has been rearing its ugly head. Just as much as a person suffers from invisible illness, there is also a painful stigma being perpetuated against those who speak out about their invisible chronic illness. Those who suffer daily from a chronic illness or pain are being labeled as ‘complainers’. They are being shunned by society as those who can’t handle anything, a person who isn’t able to cope with a little bit of pain and an attention seeker.


Just as much as the particular condition hinders those who suffer from having a completely fulfilling life, the challenge of having to defend oneself from ridicule, whether intended or not, and societal shunning is equally an issue. There are a number of things that take place when someone is suffering than simply the suffering itself. There is the guilt of being a burden to family, friends and other care-givers. There is the real danger of feeling worthless that, if left unchecked, has the very likely reality of becoming depression. The fact that the person suffering feels unable to talk or unload how they are feeling is an additional burden of guilt to add to the pile of suffering.

This particular phenomenon of ‘suffering in silence’ has really reared it’s ugly head in certain circles and I don’t like it. It’s unfair. I know that there will be both people of faith and those who aren’t that will be reading this. I happen to be a man of faith who believes that, through God’s intervention, anything is possible. I am a man of prayer and pray daily for the health and healing of my wife who lives with chronic pain and suffers in silence. Sadly, I’ve seen churches and people of faith perpetuate this unfair labeling placed on sufferers of chronic illness and pain. This stigma from people is like a resounding gong.

How dare one draw attention to oneself?

Don’t you know that one is supposed to just sit there and take it without saying anything?

Aren’t you aware that there are other people who suffer and don’t say a word?

There’s a stream of thought that, just because you’re a Christian, you need to not a say a word and pray harder. Well, we pray. We pray a lot. To those people who question other peoples’ need to speak out and ask for help, I say this: what would you do if you were the one suffering?

Would you just simply sit there and allow things to happen to yourself without a fight? Although I believe that God will heal, I also believe that God expects us to do things with the resources we have and to not just sit like a bump on a log and wait for things to happen. We’ve all heard the anecdote of ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’ It’s this quote that has literally catapulted me into being a somewhat reluctant activist for women who suffer from invisible chronic illness and pain. I can’t stand seeing people suffer. Suffering from an illness or pain is one thing, but suffering needlessly with guilt as an added bonus is something that really fogs my goggles, so to speak.

Privacy seems to be a big buzz word these days. Whether one is talking about online activities or having one’s own personal space, it seems that the trend has been to shield oneself from the rest of the world for fear of attack from some invisible mutant death ninja.

So, do I fear being heard? No. Do I cower at the idea of people knowing how I think or feel? Not in the slightest. Just as much as I want people to hear and understand the message I’m trying to get out, I want to hear the opinions and thoughts of the person standing across from me. I welcome it. Whatever happened to standing for something and people helping each other, regardless of the issue? The challenge that those who suffer from invisible chronic illness and pain is the fear of being shunned for mentioning anything about their condition.

At, I will stand as an advocate for those who are being shunned and shut out simply for speaking up.

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