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Also, commiseration can be fraught with insensitivity. For example, when a person with chronic fatigue syndrome says they’re so exhausted they can hardly make it, it is insensitive to respond “I’m tired, too,” followed by a laundry list of activities that led to the exhaustion. It really is two different states of being.
IDA includes an active social network of 4,000 people (www.invisibledisabilitiescommunity.org), and about 20,000 people a month visit the organization’s website (www.invisibledisabilities.org). The category of invisible disabilities is intentionally broad and includes thousands of conditions such as autism, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, chronic pain and chemical sensitivities. Basically anyone who suffers from a chronic condition who doesn’t exhibit outward signs of illness shares common experiences and social challenges. “These people will be invisible no more,” says the association’s mission statement. Videos of real people who suffer from various conditions are featured on the YouTube channel invisiblenomore.tv. Connell also writes a well-read blog at www.disability.gov.