‘But You Don’t Look Sick!’

“But You Don’t Look Sick!” – Understanding Invisible Illness

Living with an invisible illness sucks. Not only do you feel in highly distressing agony every single day; you’re also trying to convince others of that when they look at you and fail to recognise the chronic pain that plays havoc with your daily life. You more often than not hear how you ‘Don’t Look Sick’.

It’s a dilemma that forms the basis of this infographic from chronic pain charity Burning Nights, called ‘But You Don’t Look Sick’. Some of the statistics it shows are downright shocking – for example, it takes an average of six years from the first onset of pain symptoms for chronic pain to be formally diagnosed. Also, only 6% of invisible illness sufferers are diagnosed by the first doctor they consult about their symptoms. Even the huge majority of medical professionals can’t identify invisible illnesses, but those illnesses certainly exist, and they can totally destroy a person’s quality of life.

Of course, it can be difficult to detect such illnesses in a person on first viewing, but the next time you see an apparently perfectly healthy person complain about feeling quite unwell, don’t just assume they’re milking it for attention. Ask them what’s wrong and if there’s anything you can do to help. If the person reveals that it is symptomatic of a lasting invisible illness, have a discussion with them about it. The person is likely to be highly appreciative of such empathy, particularly when others are so harshly dismissive.

Don't Look Sick

About the author

This infographic was created by Burning Nights, a chronic pain charity based in Derbyshire. It was set up by CRPS sufferer Victoria Abbott-Fleming, who had the vision to create a support group for CRPS sufferers and to generate awareness of the condition. Burning Nights gained official charity status in winter 2015/16.



*I was not paid to post this, it fit in well with my chronic pain series and it is something that I am going to continue to highlight and raise awareness for. Please see my other posts on chronic pain.

  • Really interesting stuff on there GG.x

  • I’m glad you highlighted this – just because someone doesn’t look like they’re in pain it doesn’t mean they’re not. In fact a lot of people with chronic pain learn how to hide it very well from the public for the sake of a normal life outside of their own four walls!

    Mel ★ meleaglestone.co.uk