Almost half of American adults — 117 million people — live with a chronic condition. And many of them live with an illness that’s “invisible.”
While great strides have been made in research and treatment of these illnesses, educating the public about the daily trials and tribulations of living with an invisible illness can be difficult. Each of our honorees offers their voice to help educate and empower others.
Join us in recognizing these inspirational leaders who help #MakeItVisible.
Talk of sex and sexuality is often overlooked in conversations about chronic illness and disease. But that doesn’t mean people living with chronic conditions don’t also have the desire to be intimate.
Kirsten Schultz, who’s received diagnoses of several conditions herself, recognized the need for a place where people can safely discuss relationships, chronic illness, and sex. So she created the blog Chronic Sex, which also has a podcast and hosts live discussions on social media.
Schultz and other contributors address issues with sex and romantic relationships as they relate to people living with chronic conditions. Connect with Kirsten on Facebook.
Tarryn, aka Tazzy Untangled
Tazzy Untangled, or Tarryn, weaves health and lifestyle tips into a blog where she also discusses her interests and her own personal health. The 24-year-old has undergone laparoscopic ovarian surgery to remove a tumor, and also lives with migraines.
Tazzy shares recipes and other lifestyle tips that’ve helped her. She also discusses her surgery in detail, what others should expect, and offers post-surgery advice. Connect with Tarryn on Instagram.
Kate Fisher Speer
After a long struggle with eating disorders, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and an incorrect bipolar diagnosis, Kate Speer is still here. She celebrates her life and struggles and encourages others to do the same on her blog, Positively Kate.
Speer is a body positive blogger and mental health advocate. She puts her true self out there — on good days and bad days — to remind people that being healthy and happy is worth fighting for. Many of her posts stress that life isn’t perfect — but neither are we, and that’s OK. Connect with Kate on Instagram.
Shireen Hand has lived with endometriosis since the age of 12, but didn’t get an official diagnosis until 21. She’s had four surgeries, tried a variety of different treatments, and has a child who was born through IVF.
Endometriosis: My Life With You (EMLWY) is about her personal struggles with endometriosis, fibromyalgia, and borderline osteoporosis. Shireen writes to raise awareness and let others with her conditions know they’re not alone. Connect with Shireen on Pinterest.
Caroline "Girl with MS" Craven
During a trip to Guatemala, Caroline Craven suddenly lost her balance and vision. After a rocky return home to California, she received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS). Her diagnosis changed many things about her life, but it didn’t change her determination. Caroline aims to thrive — not just survive — with MS. Her blog encourages others to do so as well.
Girl with MS offers lots of tips and resources for people at any stage of MS. Caroline is also a motivational speaker and makes a variety of appearances to talk about MS and how to live with the condition. Connect with Caroline on Twitter.
Psoriasis can be both physically and mentally painful for people who live with it. Todd Bello knows from experience just how hard it is to live with the autoimmune disease. On Overcoming Psoriasis, he tells stories from members in his support group and shares photos and information about fundraising events to benefit psoriasis research.
In addition to providing resources on his blog, Todd also volunteers with the National Psoriasis Foundation and stays up-to-date on the latest treatment options. Connect with Todd on Instagram.
John W. Walsh and his twin brother received diagnoses with a genetic form of COPD. His diagnosis started a quest for information that eventually led to forming the COPD Foundation in 2004.
The foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to funding research for new treatments that are easier and affordable for people with COPD and related disorders. It also provides information, resources, and a social network for people with COPD. Connect with the COPD Foundation on Facebook.
Work stress can contribute to mental health issues, especially if you’re already dealing with anxiety or depression. And being a lawyer isn’t exactly a stress-free job.
Dan Lukasik recognized the need for support in the legal community. Ten years ago, he organized a support group and began his blog to help people in the legal profession who were dealing with depression.
Verywell covers a variety of chronic conditions and treatments. Articles are written by medical experts and also reviewed by board-certified physicians. Each condition is explained, and different treatments — both traditional and alternative — are explored. Connect with Verywell on Facebook.
As a young woman living with bipolar disorder, Natasha Tracy wanted a place to share her thoughts and experiences. She began writing Bipolar Burble, a blog that’d later become well-known in the mental health community.
Natasha combines her personal experiences with bipolar facts and evidence-based research, giving advice and insight on everyday issues people with bipolar face. She’s also the author of “Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar” and a mental health public speaker. Connect with Natasha on Facebook.
Pretty Sick Chick weaves feminism, body positivity, cultural issues, and chronic illness together from one woman’s perspective. Blogger Devri Velazquez has an autoimmune disease called Takayasu’s vasculitis. On the surface, she doesn’t look like someone living with chronic illness. Devri shares what it’s like to juggle the exhaustion and other symptoms of her condition along with life and career obligations. Connect with Devri on Instagram.
At age 17, Liesl Peters received an ulcerative colitis diagnosis. She’s now 23 and has been through her share of surgeries and medical procedures.
On The Spoonie Diaries, Liesl writes about what it’s like to juggle her dreams of getting through college to become a nurse while living with complications from her chronic illness. In addition to written posts, she regularly shares photos of her doctor and hospital visits. Connect with Liesl on Instagram.
Katie Dunlop changed her lifestyle habits and lost 45 pounds, but she didn’t want to stop there. She decided that motivating other women to get healthy was her calling.
Katie became a certified personal trainer (NCCPT) and started Love Sweat Fitness. The blog provides workout guides and nutrition tips, and celebrates women’s before-and-after photos. Connect with Katie on Instagram.
Despite being a young woman living with both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, Eileen Davidson remains hopeful. On Chronic Eileen, she writes about being a mom, living with chronic pain, and working to raise awareness. Eileen shares her fears and darker feelings with readers as well.
She acknowledges that being chronically ill can take you to low places, but she continues to find reasons to pull herself up. Connect with Eileen on Instagram.