The Invisible Illness

invisible-illnessThe invisible illness is that ailment or symptom for which you can’t find the source.

In most cases, nerve, gland, and blood issues would be the main subjects in this category, as these are truly impossible to see with the naked eye, require complicated testing, and often go undiagnosed for some time. However, I apply it to anything that requires a treatment of the symptom and not the cause. The cause of the illness, itself, is invisible.

Autoimmune disease, and particularly thyroid disease, can be one of the most frustrating of invisible illnesses. The symptoms are so random and varied that they can be misleading. Because of this, these types of illnesses are not usually diagnosed for years after the symptoms begin. And letting them go for so long without direct treatment can be detrimental to one’s health.

These illnesses can be extremely frustrating and cause huge amounts of pain and stress to those who have them. I know because I’ve suffered from it chronically for over 4 years, and still don’t have a final diagnosis.

People with this type of illness, suffer from additional anxiety and stress:

  • We feel symptoms that others cannot plainly see, making them have to take our word for it that we’re sick and in pain.
  • We feel guilty and sometimes wonder if we’re making it all up, until we try too hard and literally faint from exhaustion.
  • We are constantly being misled by new and varying symptoms that lead us in so many different directions diagnostically.

invisible-illnessIt started as IBS, then colon polyps, then endometriosis, then thyroid disease, and now autoimmune disorder with no source. After 4 years, there is still no official diagnosis and no one will support that through disability. This is the unfortunate story for so many people who live with the invisible illness daily.

Depression and some mental illness – ADHD, ADD, OCD, etc. – also fall under the invisible illness category. These are said to be caused by an unproven “chemical imbalance.” Mine is clearly from chronic pain and wack hormones, but sugar is also a known source for depression and ADD, among hundreds of other possible causes that do not include a chemical imbalance.

Such illnesses are unfortunately difficult to navigate and cure in the modern U.S. medical system, and many are directed or turned to prescription meds to mask the symptoms, instead of finding a cure.

If you’re over 75, maybe having a bunch of prescriptions makes sense. Maybe.

If you’re still in your thirties, like me, trying to work a full-time job and start a family, it can be truly damaging and offers a bleak future full of symptoms and lost hope.

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Drugs and Money

prescription-pillsIn today’s world, doctors and insurance companies have been bought out by a money-making system. Things are structured by greedy billionares that make it almost impossible to truly treat a patient, and the interim answers always “naturally” point to pharmaceutical drugs.

Every time you take a prescription drug, even a sample, someone gets paid.

I experienced this personally when my doctor told me I tested positive for ANA (autoimmune disorder), but he can’t locate the source and it’s not showing on tests. He said they can manage my symptoms with multiple prescriptions (all pharmaceuticals) and keep testing my blood every few months, although my search of other sources showed a clear direction for testing the source, and a possible cure.

And I’ve had this experience at every doctor (over 20) I’ve been to in the past 2 years, except 2 chiropractors who sold their own nutritional supplements. I have a drawer full of random boxes and samples of drugs from different doctors. I’m keeping them for the zombie apocalypse, as there is no other way I’d ever use them.

Prescriptions for mental illness, psychotropic drugs, are the absolute worst. Try finding an actual study that proves that there is a “chemical” imbalance that can be visually measured in someone’s brain. It doesn’t exist. It’s an interesting concept, but then why are nutritional balances not looked at before offering an unnatural chemical, created in a lab? Have you noticed that the number one most commone side effect of this type of drug is suicidal or homicidal tendencies? They are highly dangerous, and coming off of them after long-time use can be fatal. The addiction and dependancy created by these drugs is not an accident.

I understand that a percentage of people are helped by their pharmaceuticals. I can’t say I’ve never been helped by one ever. But in the long-run, these drugs are part of what is making our society more and more sick. We see them work miraculously on a few people and suddenly it becomes the answer to our prayers, but it shouldn’t be for everyone.

We’ve created a demon who just has to use surveys and marketing to find out what ails us, so they can create a chemical in a laboratory, that we sheep will gladly step up and take just because, “my doctor said so.” These pills lead to more and more aggravating symptoms, and dependency. And the most important part, they mask the symptoms and do not CURE anything.

Food is Our Poison

idiocracy-food-pyramidThe increase of sickness and health problems in the U.S., outside of our drug dependency, points directly to our food habits. Fast food chains, food processing companies, and the reckless food industry in general, are getting away with slow murder by poison. And the techniques and processes they continue to develop, the shortcuts they create, are just a way to make more money – they do not all have the consumer’s best interest at heart.

Don’t believe me?

When was the last time you checked the calories and ingredients on your favorite package of food, or fast food restaurant menu?

How many of those ingredients can you define, or even picture in your mind? You know what a slice of cheese looks like, do you know what mono sodium glutimate looks like? Maybe if you work in a Chinese restaurant you know a form of it.

Do you know that MSG enhances flavor to the degree of addiction, making it hard to stop eating whatever it is you’re eating? Do you know a majority of our most popular packaged snacks have this ingredient? Hello! – Lays even tells us, “You can’t eat just one.” Of course, you can’t. They designed it that way.

And MSG is, by far, one of the minor offenders as far as health goes, but it gives you an example of what you may not be thinking about before you put something into your mouth. All you people ordering McDonald’s from Uber EATS, you know who you are, are you really thinking about what that means for your health?

Let me provide you an example of one of my favorite nasty habits.

Taco Bell: Fiesta Taco Salad – It’s a salad, right? It can’t be that bad. I know it’s 760 calories, but the shell alone is 300 of those and I only eat part of it. Usually when I eat a salad, it’s so I can eat something a little heartier later, without concern for too many calories. When I eat this salad, I’m forced to undereat later, or exercise more – just kidding, I don’t really exercise.

I honestly thought it just had beans, rice, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and beef, with crunchy tortilla chips, in a tostada shell. Check out the insane list of ingredients! Would anyone like some anti-caking agent or disodium inosinate for lunch?

fiesta-taco-salad-nutritionIngredients: Seasoned Beef: Beef, water, seasoning [cellulose, chili pepper, maltodextrin, salt, oats (contains wheat), soy lecithin, spices, tomato powder, sugar, onion powder, citric acid, natural flavors (including smoke flavor), torula yeast, cocoa, disodium inosinate & guanylate, dextrose, lactic acid, modified corn starch], salt, sodium phosphates. Contains: Soy, Wheat, Iceberg Lettuce: Fresh iceberg lettuce [certified vegan], Taco Salad Shell: Enriched bleached wheat flour, water, ground corn (with fumaric acid, calcium propionate and potassium sorbate (P)), vegetable oil (corn, soybean, and/or cottonseed oil), salt. Prepared in canola oil. Contains: Wheat, Fire Roasted Salsa: Diced tomatoes (including juice), tomato puree, jalapeno peppers, onions, cilantro, bell pepper, salt, garlic, vinegar, cumin, citric acid. [certified vegan], Refried Beans: Pinto beans, soybean oil, seasoning (salt, sugar, spice, beet powder (VC), natural flavors, sunflower oil, maltodextrin, corn flour, trehalose, modified cornstarch). [certified vegan], Seasoned Rice: Enriched long grain rice, water, canola oil, seasoning (maltodextrin, salt, natural flavors, tomato powder, sugar, garlic powder, spices, onion, tomato, red and green bell peppers, citric acid, paprika, onion powder, paprika (VC), disodium guanylate and inosinate, torula yeast. [certified vegan], Reduced-Fat Sour Cream: Milk, cream, modified corn starch, lactic acid, maltodextrin, citric acid, sodium phosphate, natural flavor, cellulose gel, potassium sorbate (P), cellulose gum, guar gum, locust bean gum, carrageenan, vitamin A. Contains: Milk [certified vegetarian], Cheddar Cheese: Cheddar cheese (cultured pasteurized milk, salt, enzymes, annatto (VC)), anti-caking agent. Contains: Milk [certified vegetarian], Tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes. [certified vegan], Red Strips: Corn masa flour, canola or sunflower oil, beet juice and annatto extract (VC). [certified vegan]

And then there are those things we love that are advertised as “healthy,” that clearly are not. For example, 100 calorie packs of anything, or diet soda. Just because it says, “diet” or “fat free” does not make it healthy, but so many of us fall into the trap that’s right in front of our faces.

pasta-spaghettiI spent 3 months in Italy and ate nothing but pasta. Literally NOTHING BUT. – unless it was something from the pasticceria (bakery). But Italy has these amazing laws about how food has to be processed that keeps it very whole and healthy, especially their flour and dairy products. The pasta there is an incredible energy source and the coffee doesn’t give me caffeine headaches. I lost 15 pounds while I was there gouging on nothing by pasta and pastry, drinking espresso and hot, melted chocolate.

Try having a pasta and pastry rich diet here in the U.S. You’d feel depressed and you’d be fat. And a lot of us are both.

  • Our meat and dairy are so full of antibiotics and hormones that our hormone-producing glands are becoming confused.
  • We’re not getting the nutrients we need from our food because they are all being processed out.
  • We are eating too many calories, making us overweight to the point of being unhealthy – diabetes is a top health issue coming from obesity.
  • We are addicted to sugar leading to the highest rate of diabetes in the world.
  • Most importantly, sugar dependency and addition are keeping this vicious circle going, making it very hard, nearly impossible, to stop our unhealthy habits.

Our food is literally making us sick.

We need to stop with the excess pills and get our processed foods and refined sugar intake under control. But that’s super hard, right? I agree.

I’m Not Perfect

eating-cheesesteakI was raised on nutritional information. It’s a “thing” in my family. My mom is just super into that kind of thing. Despite this, we all still have our built-in bad habits that are really hard to shake.

We like to enjoy ourselves. We like different nationalities of food, cooking and eating. It’s a part of our traditions and it holds comforting memories. This has lead to a trend of obesity and health problems in my family, despite the innate knowledge and understanding that we should think about what we put in our mouths.

I have an Associate’s Degree in culinary and nutrition, and a Bachelor’s in hospitality, covering further basics in legal nutrition. I can understand and apply the information, but I don’t always apply it to myself. In fact, I attribute my inability to stay a vegan directly to my culinary training, and learning how to make meat taste good, despite my knowledge of the poor practices in our farming industries.

A LOT of people do things daily that they know they shouldn’t do for their own health. 

Do I not know that every time I go to Taco Bell I’m eating enough calories for 2 days worth of activities? I definitely try not to think about it. But it hasn’t stopped me and hundreds of others from doing it several times a month.

We do it because it’s easy, and cheap, and because we think it tastes good. But there also underlying addictions to chemicals and sugar, that make the bad habits impossible to break.

Luckily I’ve had some training in organization, philosophy, and what motivates people. I think this helps give me an advantage. I know I can change my mind, and I’m aware enough to realize that there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

That’s the best place to start.

Finding Support

Along with my journey to find doctors who are willing to properly treat the cause of my illness, and my battles with disability insurance – they don’t understand why I won’t just take a pill and get over it – I am finding ways to cure my own symptoms naturally.

If you are experiencing anything like the invisible illness, and any of the anxiety, frustration, or depression that comes with it, I want to be part of your support group and you can be a part of mine. I want to work with others to find the answers we all seek – a true cure for what is keeping any of us from enjoying a perfectly beautiful life.

I am not a doctor, but I am not stupid or blind, and I am educated by societies standards. I know that not all the information out there is accurate, and I look for facts to support the data I get. I do my best to chase down my sources and ensure my information is accurate, but I welcome productive discussions as opinions can differ in the subject of health.

If you are suffering at all, please check out my site and see if there is an answer or two here for you. And if there is something specific you are trying to research, let me know because I can add it to my quest list and possibly help you find answers.

I welcome personal emails at jaime@jaimetalks.com, or you can comment openly and share your feedback with everyone.

If you’d like to receive an update when I add material to my site each month, I urge you to sign up for my newsletter (top left). I promise not to spam you, but hopefully I can help you find some answers.


6 Replies on “The Invisible Illness

  1. Hi Jaime, really interesting article. There are so many health issues that are not properly treated by doctors – they want to get you to take a pill as you said to get the symptoms to go away but they don’t look into the cause. I think this is also linked to the increase in fertility issues of which I suffered from. The term “unexplained infertility” is so frustrating. I managed to find a good naturopath who was went through every detail of my history, food diaries, supplements and lots of tests to get to the bottom of the problem. Have you worked with naturopaths before?

    1. Hi, Allie. I’m so sorry to hear about your infertility issues, I went through the same thing. All the doctors said it was “unexplained” and then years later they found the endometriosis growing in my Fallopian tubes. I have been working with naturopaths my entire life. Unfortunately, not all of them have the answers to invisible illness, either – although their answers are at least an attempt to help and not just to make money from selling drugs. Part of the problem is that most of them aren’t fully covered by insurance. I hope to find a doctor that is both covered by insurance, and can help me find a natural path to healing. Thanks for stopping by! 

  2. Hi Jamie
    I don’t know much about Autoimmune disease. However I have research and written so much about health and food in the last few years that I know how they tie together.

    We are living in a time of the greatest medical advancements in history, yet we aren’t really any healthier. There’s no doubt that is due to the move to more and more processed foods.

    And I know about drugs, the health care industry and money, from experience. Most people with insurance of any kind don’t realize that people are left to suffer and die from lack of medical care and prescriptions who are without insurance. The insurance industry has taken over the health cost, and there doesn’t seem to be a way out of it?

    Thanks for a great article on the invisible illness

    1. Hi, Mike. It’s true, at least in America, there are definite issues with the healthcare system and insurance. Thank you so much for chiming in. It’s my hope that with enough information spread they don’t have a choice but to reform. 

  3. Very interesting post about the invisible illness! I didn’t actually realise that it was called this and your post has cleared several things up.

    You’re spot on when talking about food being our enemy. The amount of rubbish being consumed is frightening and is killing us both mentally and physically.

    I also think that this invisible illness is in our heads a lot of the time. I feel that when one cannot find a symptom, he or she tends to worry more which has a snowball effect. What do you think about this?

    1. I completely agree, there’s a lot that goes through our minds when certain symptoms pop up. I was sure at one point I must have cancer, but thank goodness it’s never shown. I think it’s important that those of us who have experienced some of these things really document our symptoms, what the cause was, and what helped. Thanks so much for your input! 

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