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What is an invisible illness?

The truth is we’re all a little bit broken. We must learn to love the broken pieces of ourselves—be gentle and empathetic with ourselves and others



These are disabilities that you can't see just by looking at someone. Even though they might look perfectly fine on the outside, they still face challenges in their daily lives.

Usually, when we think of disabilities, we imagine something we can see, like someone using a wheelchair or walking with crutches or even a guide dog. But that's not always the case. Invisible disabilities are just as real and impactful, even if we can't see them.

What are some examples of invisible disabilities?

There are many different types of invisible disabilities, but let's focus on a few common ones:


Mental health conditions

Conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety are examples of mental health conditions that can affect how someone lives their life. These conditions can make it hard for them to do everyday tasks or go to school or work.

Learning disabilities

Learning disabilities are when someone has trouble learning in one or more areas. It's not something you can see from the outside, but it can make it difficult for them to do well in school or other activities.


Traumatic brain injury

If someone has a traumatic brain injury, it means they've had damage to their brain from an accident or injury. This can cause long-term problems with their physical or mental abilities.



Epilepsy is a condition that affects the brain and causes seizures. These seizures can make someone act differently or lose awareness, but you can't always tell just by looking at them.



HIV is a virus that weakens the immune system and can lead to AIDS. Even though someone might look healthy, they can still have this invisible disability.



Diabetes is a condition that affects how the body processes food. It can't be seen from the outside, but it can have a big impact on someone's life.


Chronic fatigue syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition that causes extreme tiredness and can make it hard for someone to do normal activities.


Cystic fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition that affects the lungs and digestive system. It can cause breathing problems and other health issues.


Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

ADD and ADHD are conditions that affect how someone behaves and thinks. They can make it hard for someone to focus or sit still, but you can't always tell just by looking at them.

What makes these disabilities invisible?

So, why are these disabilities invisible? Well, there are a few reasons:

  • You can't see the disability from the outside.

  • There are no visible supports like wheelchairs or canes. 

  • Some disabilities can be managed with medication. 

  • The pain someone feels isn't always visible. 


Are invisible disabilities rare?

No, invisible disabilities are actually quite common. In fact, about 90% of the 4.4 million people living with disabilities in Australia have invisible disabilities. So, you're definitely not alone if you have one!

Some people choose to keep their invisible disability private, and that's okay. It's up to each person to decide if they want to share their condition with others.

What supports are available?

If you have an invisible disability, there are supports available to help you. Here are a few examples:

Australian Disability Parking Scheme

This program provides accessible parking (ACROD) spaces for people with disabilities, even if their disability isn't visible. It helps them park closer to their destination and makes it easier for them to get around.


Community Mental Health

If you have a mental health condition, there are community support services that can help you manage your daily life and improve your well-being.

Disability Royal Commission Support Services

This service offers free counselling and advocacy support for people with disabilities who have experienced violence, abuse, exploitation, or neglect.

Disability Employment Services

If you want to work, but need some extra support, these services can help you find and keep a job.


Family Mental Health Support Services (FMHSS)

These services aim to improve mental health outcomes for children, young people, and their families.

National Disability Advocacy Program

The NDAP program provides funding to organizations that offer advocacy support to individuals with disabilities. They make sure that everyone's rights are protected and respected. 

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

The NDIS supports individuals with permanent and significant disabilities by helping them participate in daily activities.

These are just a few examples of the programs and services available in Australia. If you want to learn more, you can check out the Australian Government of Social Services website


What communities can you join?

Outside of government programs, there are also support groups and organizations that you can join. These groups allow you to connect with others who understand what you're going through and provide a supportive community.


Support groups and organizations vary from state to state, so it's a good idea to do some research and find ones near you. If you need help finding supportdon't hesitate to reach out to our friendly team. We're here to help!

Lets talk about invisible illnesses, what are they?

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