In Her Shoes: Sharing my Story with an Invisible Illness

Today, I am sharing my story of how having an invisible illness feels with Ginger and her inspiring series, In Her Shoes. As you may know, I endure Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is considered an “invisible illness”, the symptoms may not be evident to a bystander but they are felt every day by my family and I. It’s hard to write what I feel and the harsh, judgmental eyes I face. But I share my story on Ginger’s blog, in the hopes that I can encourage readers to not rush to judgment based on appearances and get to know the story behind the person. Head on over and see what it’s like to live with an invisible illness in my shoes.


Want to share your story? Head over to Ginger’s blog and check out her series and the other bloggers who have shared their story:

To read more encouraging stories, or if you are interested in sharing your own story, please go to the In Her Shoes tab near the top of the page. I love learning about the people in this series. Connecting with others seems to make the world feel not quite as big and scary. We’re all in this together. I can’t wait to hear from you, to read your stories, and learn more of what it is like to walk in your shoes. ~ Ginger


  1. That’s so funny b/c I have been thinking of my problem as “my invisible disease” all week. (It is cold and rainy in a place where it is usually mild and sunny all year: my part of California.) My x-rays keep coming back with strained muscles and bursitis and tendonitis, only I don’t exercise, other than walking, so what is the deal? The invisible disease. I don’t have RA. I’m negative Rh, but I can still relate to this! Thank you for sharing!

    1. I’ve heard of people testing negative for RA factor and still having RA. I wish you could find an answer. Too many of us have invisible illnesses, it’s certainly taught me not to judge people by their appearance. I hope doctors can figure out something to relieve your pain. It’s so debilitating to be in constant pain and I can empathize it’s hard to deal with on a daily basis. Thinking of you and hoping for answers soon! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I’m so glad I finally took the time to read your post. Thank you for sharing your story. I have an invisible illness too. We all need to be more understanding of what others may be going through.

  3. Hi,
    I found your blog through Create with joy’s Friendship Friday; so many people are going through things which others have no knowledge of, because yes, most or all of an illness is invisible; but it is not enough to go through these problems with am illness, I understand the hurtful additional problems which are caused by others unknowing; so thankyou for sharing your story over on the other blog; and I wish you all the best; I have bookmarked your blog and will pop over on Friday;s if that’s ok, as we are on different sites.

  4. Hi, Tanya –

    Just checking in. I missed your Small Victories Sunday post and hope you are offline enjoying your family rather than experiencing a flare-up. Just wanted you to know I am thinking of you…


  5. Hi Tanya,
    Good for you for sharing your story. I have an “invisible illness” also that comes with chronic pain, fatigue and unpredictability. I have thought many times about sharing about the condition to spread education, but it still feels to raw to share.
    I think it is great that you put yourself out there.

    1. Thanks Kelly, I don’t share too often because of the psychological impact it has on me but I do think it’s important to raise awareness. It seems everyone has something to battle these days. I am sorry to hear you have chronic pain and fatigue. What are ways you cope with it? Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me.

  6. Tanya, you are a real inspiration. What a great role model you are for your boys. It must be so difficult, dealing with the illness on a day to day basis and dealing with the looks from others who think you are a perfectly healthy young woman. It is such a shame that many people feel they must judge others — and, this, without even knowing a person’s story. But it seems as if you have learned to handle everything with intelligence and grace.

    1. Thanks Adria for your kind words. My boys know the disease gets the better of me sometimes as hard as I try to fight it and stay positive. I do think it helps them understand and practice empathy for others.

  7. Thanks for sharing you story Tanya. I never realized how much pain you were in. People can be so awful and judgemental. I’ve always loved the premise of your blog – sharing/documenting your small victories. I will now appreciate them so much more.

  8. I’m so so happy you shared your story. I agree with the above comments that it’s important to make others aware of invisible illnesses. It is def so easy to look at someone and think OOO they must be taking advantage of something instead of saying hmm everyone has “stuff”!

    1. Thanks Madaline, it’s true, everyone has “stuff”. It makes us stronger dealing with our own battles but we have to not be as hard on each other. Thanks for your support and comments, I love getting them!

  9. Good for you sharing your story! I’m headed over there now to read the blog. I too suffer from an invisible illness. I have Arnold-Chiari Malformation, thankfully (although there is no cure) I had a successful surgery in Jan 2013 to treat my symptoms. I’m happy to say that I’ve not relapsed yet and finally able to lead a fuller life. Sadly not everyone is as lucky, and that’s why we all need to share our stories.

    1. Thanks Helen, I have not heard to your invisible illness and googled it. So glad you’ve had successful surgery and I so hope you don’t relapse. Very thankful you are able to lead a full and happy life. I guess the benefit to me of this invisible illness, is that I appreciate what I have and the good days all the more. Sometimes it’s easy to take for granted what we have. It took getting RA for me to have a reality check and concentrate on what’s really important in my quality of life.Thanks for sharing your story with me and commenting!

  10. Good for you speaking up and sharing. At one point I was diagnosed with CFS, which is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Invisible and totally random, a catch all when they can’t figure out what’s wrong, but affected me greatly.

    1. Thanks Jennine, so do you no longer have symptoms of CFS? I know RA can go into remission. I don’t have active inflammation so the medicine keeps my RA in remission but there is a lot of permanent joint damage already done. Thanks for your support and comment!

      1. It seemed to fade after a couple years. The doctor told me it could’ve been stress related. Also, I suffered from anxiety, which affected everything as well. 6-12 months after I had control of the anxiety (which I dealt with for ten years), the CFS symptoms faded.

        1. Glad it faded, it’s amazing how stress can impact our bodies in different ways. Glad you have control of your anxiety as well. It definitely helps me to stay positive, stress definitely makes me more fatigued and in pain. Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work keeping CFS away!

  11. Good for you for speaking up and bravely sharing your story, Tanya! It helps all of us when awareness of any invisible illness is raised. Going over to read your post now…


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