'Invisible Disabilities' Deserve Attention, Care, Support

Dear Editor:

Aug. 30, CNN did a story on addiction to pain killers. But they did not report the other side of this dilemma – those of us who have “invisible disabilities” (Fibromyalgia, Interstitial Cystitis, and others), that must take pain medication just to live a somewhat normal life. We are left, friends label us for “using” when the complete opposite is true.

I was appropriately diagnosed surgically for my “invisible” disability, and have CT scans, tests, etc. while living with two different types of cancer(Stage 4) daily. Without pain medication, I could not live at all.

For the chronically ill, we are disabled and need friends, love, support. Instead, we are abandoned and labelled as “addicts.” Our friends, churches, spouses’ actions are ignorant and horribly, horribly hurtful. My cancer and my auto-immune disease is UNBEARABLE. I watch the seasons change through a window, because walking and driving hurt. And I have no one to ask for help now. Not my friends of 20 years, who left smug in their determination that I am an addict. Not my ex-partner, who left my life calling me an addict, but a mere month later, that same partner moved in with a new lover that had been present all along, and my so-called “drug addiction” was a GREAT excuse for my PARTNER’S BEHAVIOR. In sickness and in health, we say. I promise you from experience, that no, it is too often never in sickness our spouses or partners and friends stay. In fact, when I was the one suffering terribly, my ex-partner told me, “YOU took away MY joy, and I’m not going to SIT here and watch YOU die.” Co-workers of 10 years haven’t bothered to ask if I need a friend, help, a hug, prayer. And again, friends of DECADES withdrew their love and support, help and empathy. It is THEIR BEHAVIOR that is reprehensible, not mine. I have eight doctors supervising medications for my cancer(s), for my chronic pain, for my “invisible disabilities.”

Judgmental attitudes do not solve addiction. They hurt. My life was ruined by these verdicts, and I did not and DO NOT deserve the label ADDICT. I am fighting a hard, hard battle on a daily basis. People have NO IDEA. It is even worse when people claim they are Christian, Buddhist, “spiritual,” when it is so easy to see by their actions they are not.

As a former, award-winning journalist, I say balance this hysteria. These drugs can be abused, but they can also give those of us who are terribly sick some quality of life. I have often felt it better to die than to live with all of this pain because my main support group judged me and left. MILLIONS of us are in real pain every day. MILLIONS of us are NOT addicts.. We are people hurting, facing surgery after surgery, and needing love, support, kindness – and to be treated as valuable people – not junkies.

-Pamela M. Hudspeth, M.Ed.

2044 W. Oak Fayetteville, AR.

Email: nativewriter1229@gmail.com.

Categories: Commentary