The term invisible illness may seem strange to people, although it is a common term that is used by many people in the EI/MCS community. The truth is invisible illness is a term that can be applied to most people dealing with chronic health challenges. Illnesses such as fibromyalgia, lupus, asthma, diabetes, MS and MCS to name a few, may have no “visible” outward signs until someone is in crisis. But make no mistakes the symptoms can be debilitating. The chronic pain, fatigue, cognitive impairment, dizziness, headaches and other symptoms that are experienced have a definite impact on daily life, health and the ability to function and perform any routine tasks.
While the world may show empathy to someone in a cast or on crutches, the same may not be true when you as an MCS sufferer tell someone that the smell of their laundry detergent or dryer sheets is making you sick. In fact they might look at you like you’re a little crazy. Let me also say that presentation is everything. If you approach it as an educational opportunity, you are more likely to get positive results. If you get someone on the defensive, you may likely be on the receiving end of a negative conversation. Most people are sadly unaware of the many toxins used in the creation of common household products. (See links at end of article to learn more).
MCS/EI is still not really mainstream conversation. Most people don’t get it or haven’t heard of it. That is where education and a lot of patience come in. The internet is a wonderful source of information, I am always directing people who still question MCS or the toxicity of common everyday ingredients to do their own internet research and decide. While many are shocked at what they learn, it still doesn’t mean they’ll change. People can be creatures of habit. I can still recall a conversation I had with someone six years ago about fabric softeners/dryer sheets, when I explained that it caused me to go into an anaphylactic shock, her first comment was “How will I get my clothes soft?” Really…. that was the comment I got.
Friends and Family May Not Really Understand
MCS/EI is an illness where you are forced, whether you are ready or not, to learn who your true friends and family are. Because chemicals used in perfumes, soaps, dryer sheets etc. make you sick, you can’t be around people who use them. When you explain it to people you may be surprised at the fallout. It’s can be too hard for someone to understand, too inconvenient, or may seems too unreasonable to your friends and family to change so much for you. Sadly they are also missing out on improving their own health by not using these chemicals on a daily basis.
The hard part comes when people choose fragrances over family and friends. Unfortunately I know many people who have lost friends, spouses and family members through this illness. It is a hard truth. I am truly blessed that my family and most of my friends stood by me. Many have made significant changes in their lifestyle choices, and have shared the improvements in their own health with me.
My truth is, that this illness changed and reshaped my entire life and the lives of those around me for the better.
I believe that everything in life has its purpose, whether we understand it or not at the time. For myself, I can say the challenges have been tremendous and the blessings have also been greater than I could ever have imagined.
For those who haven’t been as blessed…..I wish I could convey to you all my sadness at the decision of your friends and family to make this choice. I have no easy answers for you….only a shared understanding and knowledge of how difficult this is.
When I was in that challenging place, a friend shared this poem with me. It was what I really needed to hear at the time. I hope it blesses you along your journey to health.
There comes a point in your life when you realize
who matters in your life,
who never did,
who won’t anymore
and who never will.
So don’t worry about people from your past,
there’s a reason they didn’t make it to your future.
And remember to be kinder than necessary to everyone you meet,
everyone is fighting some kind of battle.
To Your Health!
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