Invisible Illness Awareness Week was brought into existence 14 years ago because of the efforts of a young woman with rheumatoid arthritis.
Lisa Copen was only 25 years old when she decided to start a national ministry for people who were chronically ill a year after she had received her RA diagnosis.
In 1996, Lisa brought Rest Ministries into existence. Over the last couple of decades, the number of chronically ill affected by and affiliated with the ministry has grown enormously.
In 2002, Lisa kicked off Invisible Illness Awareness Week. The response from sick people has been overwhelming, and has stayed high and even increased over the past 14 years.
To the healthy person this may seem surprising but the person living with a chronic illness, it makes total sense.
According to Disabled World, almost 50 percent of Americans live with invisible illnesses and disabilities. That's a lot of people whose lives are restricted by chronic poor health.
Thanks to access to computers, cellphones, tablets and other devices, many of those people are less cut off from the rest of the world than they had been.
They may not be able to go out, and they may be frail and fragile, but if they can tap a key, they can make contact with other people.
Some of those people understand how they feel, and what they are going through. And sometimes they even have suggestions that might bring some relief and some healing.
The Pew Research Center's Internet and American Project has reported that 65 percent of Americans who search online for answers have one or multiple chronic conditions.
I have a chronic invisible health condition, which goes sometimes by the name of myalgic encephalomyelitis, and sometimes by the name of chronic fatigue syndrome. It's now commonly referred to as ME/CFS.
I also have searched for answers online because there were none forthcoming from any doctors except for my naturopath Dr. Kelly Upcott. I was surprised and grateful when I found support in that virtual world, in ways I had not experienced in the "real" world.
About RM. Restministries.com. Retrieved Sept. 19, 2016.
Invisible Illness Week Coming (Sponsored by Rest Ministries). Restministries.com. Retrieved Sept. 19, 2016.
Invisible Illness Awareness Week facebook page. Facebook.com. Retrieved Sept. 19, 2016.
Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week Was September 10-16, 2012. Empowher.com. Retrieved Sept. 19, 2016.
National Invisible Illness Awareness Week: Sept. 9-15, 2013. Empowher.com. Retrieved Sept. 19, 2016.
Join the Invisible Fight: It's Invisible Illness Awareness Week. Empowher.com. Retrieved Sept. 19, 2016.