4 Lessons Learned From Living With Invisible Illness

Just because you might not notice a disability doesn’t mean it’s any less real to those of us living with one.

Sarah Olson Michel
7 min readMay 6, 2023
Photo by Pam Menegakis on Unsplash

I am currently living with a disease called endometriosis, a chronic condition called Interstitial Cystitis, IBS, and an undiagnosed autoimmune disease. On any given day I have joint pain and swelling, severe fatigue that isn’t helped by resting, brain fog, nausea and lack of appetite, and pelvic pain.

My entire life has been turned upside down because of my health issues. I have had surgery with one of the best specialists in the world for endometriosis, which included having a hysterectomy. Doctor appointments are a part of my weekly schedule. I have had to change my employment and alter my educational goals to accommodate the impact of my medical conditions. And I’m a lot more familiar with the ADA than I ever thought I would be.

In fact, I never imagined that one day I would be living with chronic health conditions. As a young person in my early twenties who stays pretty active, I didn’t picture myself dealing with a disability by age 25. Of course, none of us do. We’re healthy — until we’re not.

Someone once told me that anyone can become a part of the disabled minority at any time, and…