National Invisible Illness Awareness Week is from Sept. 9-15, 2013. Lisa Copen of Rest Ministries, who also lives with an invisible illness herself, organized the first Awareness Week in 2002. Since its inception, more and more groups and individuals have become involved in this worthy undertaking.

According to, almost 50 percent of all Americans have a chronic condition, and many of these conditions are invisible. Such illnesses are everywhere, but ... they are invisible, unless you know a little something about the people living with such illnesses, you aren't going to see it.

The neighbor who seems lazy, the cousin who won't get a job, the friend who never wants to go out for lunch ... maybe they aren't disinterested slackers. Maybe they are grappling with a condition that has them tied to their homes or their beds, prevents them from talking on the phone or helping at events.

Some people are able to work, and manage to carry on a semblance of a life. Because they are able to go to work, and perhaps take care of basics like buying groceries and doing housework, others may assume that they are fine, and completely miss the fact that these folks could use some help and some encouragement.

It's tough to live this way, and to be subsequently misunderstood by so many healthy people. I know because I have an invisible illness. I live with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) which also goes by the ridiculous name chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

I have been the sick person who was bedridden and ignored, and after my condition improved, moved on to being the sick person who works, and so is assumed to be fine and healthy.

The goal of Awareness Week is to unite those who are ill into a community, as well as to educate healthy people, encouraging them to reach out to the sick with support.

What are some of these invisible conditions?