This is Invisible Illness Awareness week. The theme this year is Just One. I’ve thought about Just One and what it means to me. My invisible illness is chronic pain. What Just One thing I could do to improve the lives of people who share the same condition?
image from Wikipedia
Then I remembered mood rings (a fad of the 1970s). The colours of the ring expressed your mood, without you having to say anything. Of course, not all the colour charts were the same, and really it was ambient room temperature that most effected the ring. But, that didn’t stop people, especially teenage girls, from buying them, and running their lives based on the mood they were supposed to be in. I know, I had a mood ring.
After that piece of nostalgia, back to the Just One pain ring. When people sincerely ask “how are you,” and are willing to listen to the whole story, the ring would be secondary to the wearer’s conversation.
Then there are the casual askers, co-workers, neighbours, folks taking the same course, and other such people who the wearer sees on a regular basis. The causal asker really doesn’t want to know how much pain you are in and how that effects your life. They are just looking for the “fine” answer – asking as a way of saying hello.
These are the people who need to learn about invisible illness, chronic pain. Become aware the the challenges we face, and overcome as best we can. So, hand them a card explaining the pain ring’s colours. Show them the ring, and decide if you want to make conversation.
The card would promote awareness of invisible illnesses. That the people who respond “fine” to the question “How are you?” may not really feel fine. It’s just an automatic answer to the “how are you?” as a means of saying hello.
So, my Just One thing would be a pain ring that accurately displayed the level of pain the wearer was experiencing, and a personalized card so the wearer can chose what each level of pain means to them, the effect it has, and give an idea of what that level of pain feels like.