Supplemental Content: Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches

Keep up with Migraine & headache news, tips, tools, and more... View our blog!


My Illness Is Invisible
National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week

Living Well With Migraine Disease & Headaches continues to be a top listed title in bookstores and online booksellers. For a description on the book or an Amazon link, click HERE. To read an excerpt from my book or other content, check our Supplemental Content Section.



Optimal health care can be achieved
only when patients are educated
about their health and patients and
physicians work together as
treatment partners in an
atmosphere of mutual respect.



We who live with chronic headaches and Migraine disease have something in common with 96% of people who live with a chronic illness -- our illness is invisible. We don't live with our heads bandaged, walk with a cane, or show any other outward sign of our illness.

This can create a problem in terms of public awareness, the support we receive from those around us, and in how we're perceived by others. "Out of sight, out of mind" applies here. People can't see signs of our illnesses, so they often think we're perfectly healthy. We can look great even when we're debilitated. Looking great, however, doesn't diminish the huge impact of such conditions.

Chronic illness facts


  • Nearly 1 in 2 Americans (133 million) has a chronic condition.
  • That number is projected to increase by more than one percent per year by 2030, resulting in an estimated chronically ill population of 171 million.
  • 96% of them live with an illness that is invisible. These people do no use a cane or any assistive device and may look perfectly healthy.
  • 90% of seniors have at least one chronic disease and 77% have two or more chronic diseases.
  • The divorce rate among the chronically ill is over 75%.
  • Studies have reported that physical illness or uncontrollable physical pain are major factors in up to 70% of suicides.

Building Awareness

September 11-17, 2006, is National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week (NICIAW). The theme this year is, "My Illness Is Invisible But My Hope Shines Through!" NICIAW is an annual major public awareness campaign sponsored by HopeKeepers Magazine, a consumer magazine that offers spiritual encouragement for those who live with chronic illness or pain.

Paul J. Donoghue and Mary Siegel, co-sponsors of the week and authors of "Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick
and Tired: Living With Invisible Chronic Illness" say,

"Invisible chronic illnesses (ICI) have symptoms that are difficult to see and impossible to measure such as pain and fatigue. So those with ICI frequently encounter not compassion and support but impatience and skepticism from physicians and loved ones."

Lisa Copen, the editor of HopeKeepers Magazine who lives with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, commented,

"Living with an illness that is invisible to those around us can often have a more devastating affect on our emotional health than the physical pain... Each day we must choose to have hope, despite how medications and alternative treatments may help or hinder us... Just because someone isn’t using a wheelchair doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have a disability. Friends and family of those with chronic illness care a great deal about what their loved ones are going through, but oftentimes the invisibility of the illness sets up an environment for misunderstandings and even doubt about the validity of the illness. We hope to increase awareness of how many people ‘look great’ but are hurting deeply."

Online conference

During NICIAW, an online conference of more than 20 online seminars is being held. The seminars are being conducted via an online chat room. The seminars are being conducted by chronic illness coaches, authors, patient advocates, nutritionists, and other professionals. On Thursday, September 14, I'll be conducting a seminar "Empowerment over the pain," at 6p.m., eastern time. For more information on the conference and a complete schedule of seminars, visit


For many of us, the invisibility of our illness and the resulting lack of understanding and compassion from others is as difficult to handle as the illness itself. During National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, let's make an extra effort to learn more ourselves as well as help educate others.


  • Press Release: "96% of Illness is Invisible – Many Look Good but Feel Terrible." HopeKeepers. September, 2006.
  • "Chronic Conditions: Making the Case for Ongoing Care." Chronic Care in America: A 21st Century Challenge, a study of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation & Partnership for Solutions: Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (September 2004 Update).
  • United States Census Bureau. 2002.
  • Anderson, Gerard, Ph.D. "The Growing Burden of Chronic Disease in American." Public Health Reports. Volume 110, May-June, 2004.
  • Mackenzie TB, Popkin MK. "Suicide in the medical patient." International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine 17:3-22, 1987


Published September 5, 2006
© Teri Robert


Tell a friend about this article:

 The American Headache and Migraine Association (AHMA)...

a patient-focused, patient-driven organization for patients with Migraine and
other headache disorders and their family, friends, and care partners.
Anyone interested in the concerns or patients with these disorders is welcome to join.

The AHMA exists to EASE the burden of Migraine and other headache disorders through Education, Awareness, Support, and Engagement.


This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.

Search only trustworthy HONcode health websites:

NOTE: The information on this site is for education and support only. It is not medical advice and should not be construed as such. Always consult your physician if you have new or different symptoms. Never change your treatment regimen or add herbals, supplements, etc., without consulting your doctor.

All content on this site is physician reviewed by Dr. John Claude Krusz.

Our Mission & Purpose  •   About the Information on This Site  •   Our Privacy Policy  •   Site Funding, Advertising, & Linking  •   Contact

All content © 2004 - 2014, Teri Robert unless otherwise indicated. • All rights reserved.
Last updated Saturday, September 27, 2014.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape


Looking for awareness items? Your search is over...

"Headaches Do Not Have Me" Mug

from Cafe Press

"Not the Boss" Thermos Tea Tumbler

from Cafe Press

"Knowledge Is Power"
Tile Box

from Cafe Press

"Migraines Are Not the Boss of Me!"

from Cafe Press


You can find these and other items in our Awareness Shop!