September 13-19 2010 has been designated 'National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week'. They have a simple and fun way of getting the word out about this awareness week, and make people feel good at the same time. Here's the idea: Get some sticky notes, any color, any size. Write on them encouraging words, and at the bottom write 'invisibleillness.com'. Some suggestions they have of words to write are 'Got pain? Find hope!', 'If you are wondering if someone cares, someone does', and 'Pain is a bummer, but you don't have to do it alone'. You can write out some notes at home and take them with you when you go out, or take your sticky notes and pen with you, and write them on the spot. You can leave them anywhere were someone else will find them, inside a magazine at a doctor's office, on the mirror at a restaurant, etc.
They will be having a virtual conference, with a 90 minute workshop each day by various speakers. You register for the conference, then just go to the website at the designated time and listen in. You can also listen to the workshops any time after they take place on itunes. I also like the theme for this year's campaign: 'Each 1 can reach 1'.
According to the statistics on the invisible illness web page, one out of two Americans is living with some kind of condition. This includes cancer, arthritis, diabetes, chronic pain and mental illness, among many others. 96% of these people have an invisible condition, one that does not require a cane or other visible sign. When you look at me, you don't see my Sjogren's Syndrome or Fibromyalgia. You see a middle aged woman who looks healthy. For the most part, I like it that way
I think that spreading the word about invisible illness will help everyone. It will remind us not to make assumptions about others, and to be gentler with each other. Go to the invisible illness week website, explore what they have, and go out and spread those sticky notes of encouragement. I love random acts of kindness.