Invisible Illness: When Others Can’t See Your Pain

The Challenges of Invisible Illnesses

This was certainly the case for Allison Bigman, a New Yorker who has lived with chronic fatigue syndrome for more than 15 years. Her symptoms were so overwhelming at first that she had trouble managing them. Lack of understanding of the pain she was going through meant that she had to quit her job.

Then, she noticed that many of her friends stopped calling or stopping by. “The disease changes you, and many people just don’t understand it and can’t handle seeing you that way,” says Bigman.

The social isolation and challenges faced by Bigman are not unique among people with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or similar health issues.

These conditions can be difficult to prove, and workers’ compensation and personal injury cases can become “expert versus expert,” with no one winning. And people with invisible illnesses frequently get a lack of sympathy from family members and doctors alike.

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