Parenting children with invisible illnesses, breaking the silence
If you personally know me or have ever read personal blogs post shared here or on my Sweet Lemonade Life page you are aware I don’t shy away from sharing struggles. Everyone has them. I have battled depression for 13 years, went through a divorce, dealt with emotional abuse, struggle with healthy eating, etc. My life, like so many others, may look ‘perfect’ from the outside to some but it is not without challenges. With challenges comes pain, heartache, confusion, anger, learning, growth and even thankfulness and I’ve shared about all of those emotions at one time or another.
I have a child who battles invisible illnesses also. But I don’t openly talk about the details of it online. Why? Because as a teen, I want to provide him the ability to share what he wants, when he wants and with whom he wants. It’s his story to share, not mine. There are many parents who are navigating unchartered territory as they are raising children with invisible illnesses… and it can feel lonely. For the parents and the kids. Some parents may have been able to quickly get a diagnosis for their child while others spend years visiting doctors only to have them say ‘nothing’s wrong’ or misdiagnosing again and again leaving you all feeling a little crazy.
Since last year, I’ve had a photography project on the back burner. And after talking to yet another parent of a child with an invisible illness, during her senior session last night, I am convinced this needs to become a priority. While hearing more details about her daughter’s struggles since junior high made me sad, it also gave me a sense of relief that my family was not alone in what we are handling.
So what now?
Through pictures and words, I want to share the story of children of any age through college who are willing to share their personal story of their invisible illness/struggle. The illness or struggle could be Crohn’s, Cystic Fibrosis, Lupus, MS, diabetes, depression, anxiety, attempted suicide, cutting, anorexia, bulimia, etc. I know there are lots of invisible (or nearly invisible) illnesses I don’t even know about. I learned about one more last night. Share your story. Educate me. Teach your peers what it’s like to walk in your shoes. Tell the world what makes you unique. Let’s break the silence!
You Are Special
Someone with an invisible illness is not broken. It is not their fault. God created everyone to be unique and we're all just trying to figure out how to best navigate life with the characteristics that make us unique. Let's put faces to the illnesses, erase the stereotypes, learn from those hurting and receive the info with an open heart ready to be compassionate to those who are brave enough to share their story.
Brave Kids Wanted
Kids, if you are brave enough to share your story, with the help (or at least approval) of your parents, please complete this short 10 question questionnaire sharing more details. At some point (I do not have a timeline at all yet) I will reach out to a few of you to take some photos as well as write a blog post to share more about your story. Parents of younger kids, if you wish to share your child’s story you are welcome to use the link above to fill out the questionnaire.
Heather is the owner of Sweet Lemonade Photography and co-owner of Sweet Darling Weddings located in central Illinois (Mahomet). Life gave her a bunch of lemons (you can read a little more here on her personal blog Sweet Lemonade Life) and by keeping her focus on God, finding the positive in each day, and surrounding herself with supporting, loving and encouraging people she has turned those lemons into the sweetest lemonade. Her personal blog has been created to share her heart, her adventures and find ways to bless others. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.