Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Invisible Conditions

Trigeminal Neuralgia is an invisible condition.

One of the most difficult aspects of living with Trigeminal Neuralgia is that it cannot be seen by people. "Can someone really be in so much pain, but have no visible signs?”

Many people need evidence, something visible, something tangible, before they can truly believe that someone could possibly be living with such cruel and savage pain. After all, if it were really that bad, doctors would have found a cure by now. Wouldn’t they?

Sadly, it is that bad, and even more sadly, there really isn’t a cure.

When there is no understanding, it affects the patient so much.

They feel like they are not believed. They feel guilty because of their inability to live life as they should. They feel like failures, as they cannot live up to their own or other people’s expectations. They feel that they need to hide their pain from others. They feel more and more isolated with their pain. They become depressed. And it becomes even more difficult to deal with the pain.

This is not just related to Trigeminal Neuralgia.

There are many invisible conditions.

Can we tell if they have an invisible condition?

Can we tell if they are ill?

Can we tell if they are depressed?

Can we tell if they are grieving?

Can we tell if they are being bullied?

Can we tell if they are struggling financially?

Can we tell anything about a person simply by looking at their face?

Of course, we can’t tell any of those things just by looking at someone's face.

But we, as humans, tend to judge too readily.....even those of us who believe ourselves to be non-judgmental. We all do it.

We notice the grumpy looking shop assistant and think they could do with smiling a bit more. We don’t wonder why they are grumpy. We don’t really give a thought to what they may be going through. We possibly don’t even care.

We see a car pulling into the disabled parking space and notice the driver getting out and walking unaided into the supermarket and presume he isn’t disabled at all and shouldn’t be parking there. We don’t give a thought that by the time he has finished his shopping, he possibly will be struggling to walk from the checkout back to his car. We just think he was wrong to park in that disabled space.

We hear so much on television and newspapers about people fraudulently claiming disability benefits, that when our young, healthy looking neighbour hasn’t been working for six months, we presume they are lazy and work-shy. Do we even entertain the thought at all, that this healthy looking young man, may actually be suffering greatly in some way? Depression? Anxiety? Living with invisible pain like Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Perhaps we all need to take another look at those faces.

Perhaps we need to imagine a large question mark on their foreheads to remind ourselves that much of what goes on in life is actually invisible.

Nobody likes to be judged.

Perhaps a little more compassion and empathy could make everyone’s lives a little better. 

Please help to bring awareness about Trigeminal Neuralgia and other Invisible Conditions by sharing our blog. Awareness can bring much needed understanding.


  1. I have TN and peopel tell me I look well. They don't understand. I wish they would read this.

    1. Send it to them anonymous! Prayers for you!

  2. It's true. How can nobody see this pain. It's the worst pain in the world. I have lived with this monster for over 2 years now. Nobody knows what it is like.

  3. It is so frustrating. Nobody "close" to me has taken the time to read what TN is about. Its as if nobody cares. That's what is sad about it all. Blogs like these with fellow TN sufferers is what helps me to not be so depressed. At least we understand each other.

    1. I'm so sorry Carolyn. I am lucky enough that my whole family, kids AND parents have read and educated themselves about my TN so they are very understanding! I pray that your family does the same for you soon!

  4. Yep - I still remember being in pain once and telling someone and their reaction was - really? You don't look like you're in pain... I see I'm not alone. thanks for writing this blog


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