Invisible Illness What You Do See VS What You Don’t

She hides behind her smile,

But she can only keep it up a while,

The pain gets to be too much sometimes,

Leaving her only able to reminisce on the fun times,

Before her injury and illness,

When how she looked was no one’s business,

When her body obeyed every command,

And every lesson didn’t end with I don’t understand…

Elina Passant

Anyone with an invisible illness will have heard “you don’t look sick” more times than they can count. And it really is the biggest backhanded compliment you can give someone with an Invisible Illness because it comes off that their illness isn’t valid. I do understand why people say it because when you think of illness you tend to think of the flu or people in the hospital. But what most people don’t realise is that illness has so many stages and looks. I’ve personally been at so many stages with my health, there have been times when I have looked visibly and severely sick. And times like now where I look “healthy” on the outside, but in reality, I am just as sick as when it was visible. Not to mention the amount of work and time it took me to look that way, having to force myself to eat knowing how much pain it would put me in and walking every day no matter how dizzy/faint I felt and having to maintain a “healthy” body.

See the thing with an invisible illness, is it’s just that, invisible. You don’t see the daily struggle people go through just to function, you only see what they want you to see. For a while, I felt as though I had to keep my struggles to myself because when I got sick I lost the majority of my friends. But thanks to amazing bloggers like Ali Hemsley – who’s photo series what you see vs what you don’t inspired me to write this post. I’ve learnt that my illness doesn’t define me, I am not my sickness and I now surround myself with people that are supportive and understanding. I wanted to share with you what you do see vs what you don’t see with my illness, as a reminder to never judge a book by its cover. Because you never know what may be going on behind the scenes!



  • Bubbly
  • Ditzy
  • Skinny
  • Chatty
  • Tired
  • Closed off
  • Slow to pick up on things
  • Outgoing
  • Happy



  • Brain fog
  • Chronic Pain
  • The sleepless nights due to uncomfortable symptoms and high pain days
  • The accidental burns I get on my stomach from constantly having a heat pack on it, in an attempt to lessen the pain
  • Constant nausea
  • The severe effect the weather has on my body
  • Difficulty eating due to GI issues
  • Going delirious or hypo when symptoms get to be too much
  • Introverted due to having to manage health issues
  • Constant dizzy spells
  • Unstable and painful joints
  • Constant headaches or migraines
  • Trips out of the house longer than 30 minutes usually leading to uncontrollably falling asleep for hours
  • My inability to run at all or be on my feet for long periods of time
  • No energy/chronic fatigue
  • The 2-3 doctors/physio appointments I seem to have every week
  • Severely struggling to keep up with my education due to health issues


– What are your thoughts on this topic? And for those with an Invisible Illness how do you advocate for yourself and others? Comment down below, I’d love to know! xx

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  1. You’ve covered such an important topic so clearly and brilliantly Elina!! I’m so proud of you being so open about your struggles with invisible illness and I know that this post will help so many people dealing with a range of different illnesses of their own!! So many people have the mind set of you have to be able to visibly see something in order for it to be there but that couldn’t be any further from the truth and this post will hopefully open peoples eyes a bit to the reality xx

  2. I think this post and raising awareness of invisible illnesses is so important, especially from the perspective of someone who has no first hand experience of them. I try my hardest to never judge a book by it’s cover but there are so many horrible stories about people getting abuse for parking in disabled spots and labelled as ‘not being disabled’ because of how they look. I can’t imagine how horrible an experience that would be.
    Soph – x

  3. Mental health is an invisible illness too and it doesn’t make it any less real, it’s wonderful that you’re creating awareness for something so important xx

  4. It’s so important that people remember that not all illnesses are visible, so many you wouldn’t even know someone suffered with!

    1. Yess so true! Up until I got sick I had no idea what chronic illness was or that illness isn’t always visible. Hopefully, the more we talk about it the more the world will become aware of it 🙂
      -Elina xx

  5. What can social workers do to help individuals cope with chronic invisible illnesses that are not as accepted by the medical community? “They can do what social workers do best,” Colon says, “work together as a team, help educate patients about their illness, validate their illness and experiences as real, find useful resources, strengthen their ability to communicate effectively, and not only advocate for them but teach them the skills to advocate for themselves as well.”