Meet Sherri Connell, a beautiful and accomplished woman: former model, performer, equestrian, educated with multiple degrees. In 1991, because of Multiple Sclerosis and Lyme Disease, her active life came crashing down. Aware of her struggles in dealing with friends, family and others who exhibited little understanding of her situation, her husband, Wayne, created The Invisible Disabilities Association (www.invisibledisabilities.org). And together they wrote this 56-page booklet to help encourage and create understanding for those who just don't get it that we really are sick and sometimes need to be handled with kid gloves.
As insensitive as the behavior of those "non-believers" can seem, while reading this booklet I became aware of how difficult it is for them to deal with US. They always seem to say the wrong thing. We frustrate them because we seem okay on the outside; how can they tell when we're not? Why aren't we the same people we used to be? They feel like they've lost the person they once knew. (Yeah, we feel that way, too!)
Wayne and Sherri take the time to explain what chronic conditions are, why we may not LOOK sick, addressing the fear that we've given up, what to say, what not to say, and how to be a comfort to someone who is chronically ill or in pain. "But You Look Good" is a great gift to close friends, family members, and others who want to understand your situation better and do what they can to maintain a strong, supportive relationship with you.
But what about all those other folks you encounter on a daily basis: acquaintances who brush aside and minimize your struggles, become impatient with you, insult you, give you unwanted advice? People who don't really care about the relationship as much as what they need out of you. You know who I'm talking about. Even strangers who get huffy when they see you park in a disabled space and walk without a limp into the store. These folks will not take the time to read a 56-page booklet so that they may learn compassion and skills in dealing with people like you! Thankfully, The Invisible Disabilities Association also offers pamphlets on their website that you can purchase in bulk to hand out to those folks.
"But You Look Good" is a compassionate book, tenderly guiding our loved ones through a journey of understanding and growth. It is self-published by the Invisible Disabilities Association and can be purchased on their website. Because it is self-published, the booklet is not tightly written and, perceivably, could be better as a slightly shorter publication, making it easier for people to accept it and read it. However, that aside, it is a valuable resource for loved ones of the chronically ill, fatigued, or pained to create understanding and make our lives that much easier and more pleasant.
Buy a bundle of these booklets for your family and close friends, and packs of the brochures to hand out to the church ladies who keep asking you to bake cakes, to your grocery store clerk who packs groceries in a bag only Arnold can lift, or to those hotheads in the parking lots! You are on mission to educate the world about invisible illness, and the Connells have done the hard work for you! Remember, National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week is September 9 - 15, 2013!