Hiding In Plain Sight: Subtle Signs A Loved One May Be Living With An Invisible Illness

Happy Thursday everyone! I’d like to apologize for missing my Wellness Wednesday post this week. Somehow I got off my schedule (I’m going to blame it on the holiday ha ha) and didn’t want to just throw something together. Wellness Wednesday will return next week. 

In the meantime, this is a post I wrote a while back, but since September is Pain Awareness Month, I thought it might be worth revisiting.

My brother sent me this photo the other day. If you look very closely, you may be able to find the tiny tree frog hiding in there. Actually, he’s not hiding at all, but sitting out there in plain sight.

Hiding In Plain Sight: Subtle Signs Your Loved One May Be Living With An Invisible Illness https://reclaiminghope.blog

That’s kind of how invisible illnesses are. They’re there, but because there don’t seem to be any outward manifestations of illness, people assume everything is fine. Invisible illnesses are those that are not readily apparent to the casual observer. The person living with this type of illness may not look “sick” at all, but inside, every moment of every day may be a challenge.

I’ve heard so many stories of people who were told, “but you don’t look sick”, “you’re faking it”, or “it’s all in your head.” They want to be believed, but because there’s no glaringly obvious physical problem, they fight an uphill battle to be heard, and sometimes, to receive proper treatment.

Others get so good at hiding it that not even those who are closest to them realize how much pain they’re in. Many just hide behind masks and pretend everything is okay in an attempt to have a “normal” life (See My Mask Fell Off).

What if we could see what was going on with our loved ones? What if there was some way for us to see what was going on inside? Well, we can’t do that, but although there aren’t necessarily blatant outward signs of these types of illnesses, there are subtle clues if you look closely.

Some Subtle Signs Someone You Love May Have An Invisible Illness

  •  They don’t participate in activities they once loved.
  •  They seem restless, changing positions often.
  • They’ve become more withdrawn.
  •  You notice them pursing their lips, or wincing, with certain movements.
  • They seem to move more slowly, or take great care in the way they move.
  • Their eyes may appear more dull or tired-looking.
  • They may have a change in appetite.
  • They may find it difficult to make decisions.
  • They may make plans with you and then cancel.
  • They may seem to run out of energy quickly.
  • You may notice a change in personality.
  • They may have trouble remembering things.

Obviously, this list is not all-inclusive, and isn’t meant to be used as a diagnostic tool; rather, it can help start a conversation with your loved one if you suspect something is going on with them. You can let them know that you care, and although you may not be able to completely understand, you’re willing to learn how you can help. That’s one of the greatest gifts you can give them.

For all my fellow invisible illness warriors out there, please help me expand the list. What are some of those subtle signs you display when you’re in pain?

And to lighten it up a little, for those of you who might be wondering where the frog is…..

Tree Frog Reveal




  1. I was trying to think of other things, but honestly you’ve captured all of mine. It’s weird it’s like my brain shuts down to try to block out the pain signals and I feel numb. Thank you for spreading awareness about chronic pain. I find that we are all so used to it we often don’t talk about it. Hoping today is kind to you!🌸

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you so much Mishka! I know what you mean about your brain seeming to shut down – that happens to me sometimes. Some days, when I notice it happening, I tell my hubby he has to keep an eye on me and not let me do anything I shouldn’t.😄 I hope you’re having a lovely day!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Great post Terri! And so important for helping people to understand the signs of someone who is living with an invisible illness. x I’m so glad you circled where that frog was too, I kept looking! I thought I’d found him, but it was abit of branch! 🙂 xxx

    Liked by 4 people

  3. This is a true post. We do hide our pain and sometimes we get really good at it! I have trained myself to say “Please give me a minute” to allow myself time to think prior to answering. My main issue is forgetfullness and simply being stumped so this helps me. These signs you have listed are accurate and helpful. Nice of you to show us the frog too! Thank you Terri! 🤗

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Christy! That’s a great idea about asking for a minute to get your thoughts together before answering. It could really be helpful to have that extra time when dealing with brain fog, and the fact that your loved one frequently asks for “a minute” could be one of those subtle signs. Thank you for sharing!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Brilliant post Terri! I do think it is very important to educate people on what an invisible illness is because they are out there. I know I deal with one and people just do not understand. I often try to hide the pain I am dealing with or the weakness I feel in my legs because I get frustrated with explaining it to people over and over again. I think I should print your post out and pin it up at my desk at work and maybe just carry it with to help explain my life to others. Thank you SO much Terri for sharing such an amazing post with us!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Alyssa! You are way too kind! I think a lot of us just find it easier to try to hide the pain rather than trying to explain it to people, but sometimes by doing that we can push people away. We just never know what people are going through, do we? I wish people could understand that just because you can’t see an illness, that doesn’t mean it’s not there. I really wish your co-workers were more understanding. I know it has to be hard to deal with the lack of understanding on top of your illness.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are more than welcome Terri! It does get hard to explain, but it makes it worse when you are explaining it to the same people time and time again. I do wish my co-workers had some sense and class, but some of them are a lost cause. I am learning to just go on with life!

        Liked by 2 people

  5. I somehow hadn’t realised September is pain awareness month. This is a great post, and you are so right about ‘invisible illness’ and also how we/those with such issues get good at hiding the outward signs of being unwell or in pain. Very well said! xx

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Terri, Thank you so much for sharing that list. I know that before my struggle with pain began, I had no idea what a person who walks the walk of pain dealt with. I know this for sure my eye’s view things differently, and my heart is drawn more powerfully to those who suffer. In this chair (recliner) God has given me an active prayer life where once I had a very active physical life. I pray now for those who hurt and seek Gods face for their relief. Blessings, Gary

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Gary! It really is hard for people to understand chronic pain unless they’ve experienced it. Once you experience it yourself, you really do start to have more empathy for others who are also hurting. I think it’s wonderful that you use your time praying for others. Blessings to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow, thank you so much Gary, both for your kind words and for sharing my blog with your friends. I’m having to take a few days’ break because we have some family members who evacuated here from the hurricane, but I hope to be back next week. Thanks again!


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