The first time I heard the statement "If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose:" posed to me, I immediately jumped all over my answer. Since then, two years ago, I think about this question and try to figure out if I would answer it any differently.
How do you answer it? Would you rather have a visible or invisible disability? Why do you choose your decision?
My answer was and still remains invisible. I think in many ways this gives me some control over my disease that I don't always have. I can't always control when a Migraine is going to hit me, but I can have some control over who knows this about me. Of course there are times when my invisible illness has become more visible and my 'dirty little secret' gets out whether or not I'm ready or willing to talk about it.
My cube at work is really awesome. The light accommodation I have is so much better than when I had my own office. Where my cube is, where the lights happen to be over my desk and with the light accommodations, I have a low light flow when I am at my desk which has not ever attacked me.
However, this does bring a lot of conversations around my lighting throughout the day which definitely makes my illness visible. I have chosen to use this as an opportunity to start talking about having a light sensitivity and then bringing it as far as the other person wants to take it. Sometimes that's as far as it goes and other times, we can have great conversations either about themselves or someone else they know who has Migraines.
I have also learned to keep a few copies of the Understanding Migraines and Migraineurs letter for those who know the deal yet still choose to keep making stupid comments and other things. I have handed out a couple of these letters and it has stopped one person, yet again, from continuing with his constant snide commentaries.
I want to give you another example of why I prefer my invisible disability. I have an incredible nephew, who just started the first grade. He was playing in the park last month when he went over to some boys to see if they wanted to play with him. Their response? "No, you only have one arm." Do you think that's bad? Their mothers responses were "They can choose or not choose who they want to play with." Really? Seriously?
My nephew was born this way. I don't think he believes he is different from anyone else as he can do anything he puts his mind (and foot) to doing. He has incredible self esteem and unfortunately, has had to learn about other peoples ignorance's at a very young age.
Fortunately, his parents are very good about dealing with him and those who know not what they talk about. It's really mind boggling how much discrimination he had dealt with at his age; not only by other kids, but adults too. His teachers have been really wonderful in school too when another student innocently says something that can hurt his feelings and makes him feel different.
As you can see, my nephew does not have the option of only sharing his disability when he is ready to talk about it. He is faced with it everyday and someone can confront him with it at anytime.
My light accommodation as well as my moodiness might 'give away' my illness at times, but I still pretty much have the choice of sharing it with someone or not sharing. I still choose to have my invisible illness where I can have this one bit of control over it.
If you had to choose between an invisible illness or visible, what would you choose?