Thursday, September 16, 2010

Invisible Illness Awareness & Being Geeky

This week is Invisible Illness Awareness Week. Invisible illnesses include a wide variety of disorders that most people probably do not sense that others have. If you can't tell someone is sick then your actions towards that person will assume that they are an able-bodied individual As you can imagine this could create a host of complications from thinking a person who is fatigued is "just as tired as everyone else" not knowing that the person is medically exhausted to not realizing that someone you see on a daily basis is constantly in pain.

What does this have to do with being geeky? Well, in my opinion the traditional geek hobbies of electronic gaming, table-top gaming, computing, and the many other awesome things geeks are involved in are the perfect outlet for those who have an invisible illness. Chances are you know or game with someone who is disabled openly and others that have a chronic disorder that you cannot sense like Arthritis, Lupus, Firbromyalgia, CFIDS, MS, Depression, Anxiety, and any of the other many disorders that can hide in plain sight.

Geeky hobbies, jobs, and entertainment are great opportunities for those who are limited in some way because by nature geeky stuff is adaptable. For example if a person suffered from too much pain or fatigue to play a console/computer game then he or she could always try a game of DnD played in a place with a couch and an understanding gaming group. In general technology is a natural connection to any type of illness because it can make more options possible for the person affected.

Finally, I would argue that if a person finds something that he or she really enjoys then there is the benefit of being distracted for a moment from what is going on in life. Some people might disagree with me and argue that "resorting to fantasy" is bad for a person who is suffering. I completely disagree. There is nothing that makes hobbies and entertainment any less real than whatever people think 'real' life is when they throw the term around. What we care about is always a part of our life, even if it isn't making us money or doing something that is typically considered 'practical'. Anything that adds to our life in a pleasant way is 'practical' .

What do you think? What other types of geeky activities do you think could help someone with a chronic illness?


  1. Video games distract me from my anxiety problems.

  2. i know for sure that world of warcraft and twitter kept me sane while i had lymphoma and could barely get out of my house.

  3. Totally agree with you here. While not an "invisible" illness, I saw an individual who was in a wheelchair playing a Star Wars based game at the local Barnes & Noble this week. What's this person suppose to do? He can't very well go out and play football. Not trying to be mean with that last statement, just trying to be realistic. People with physical issues need activities that rely more on the mind than the body. RPGs are perfect...they entertain, exercise the mind, and your physical abilities don't matter. I was really pleased to see that this person at B&N had found an activity that he could do with friends where they were all just the same and could just enjoy some good times.

  4. I agree with what Christina said about video games. Back while my ex and I were still separated but not quite divorced, I was in hiding from him because I had moved back to town and didn't want him to know. (This was especially because one of the things he said to me before I had left town originally was that I should have known bad things were going to happen to me if I left him. So you understand why I didn't want him to know where I was.)

    At any rate, I had moved in with my sister to help her out with her kids, but unfortunately, she lives only 9 blocks from my ex, so I would get nervous to even leave the house. Warcraft was my ONLY social outlet. To this day, I will never delete my very first toon because I feel like she's gotten me through so much. I feel that social outlet I got via WoW kept me sane.

  5. While in college there was a year where I suffered from a rather crippling mental illness. Well, it was crippling in most areas, surprisingly not in getting my schoolwork done. Anyway, I found bi-weekly D&D sessions a great chance to escape from some of that. Besides the collaborative storytelling and the focusing on something else, there was also a great deal of silliness and laughter (as I suppose there is in any good gaming session) and that helped. Not permanently, but it gave me some good hours. And bonding with those friends gave me support outside the game too.

    I've had mental ups and downs since then and found Twitter helpful and found sci-fi/fantasy books & tv shows helpful (in fact I wrote a blog post about why I think they're more helpful than most).

  6. Thank you so much for sharing everyone. These comments show the positive side of what gaming can do for people who are hurting.