I am excited to be kicking off our summer prep for National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week! Did you know Rest Ministries is behind this awareness week? Rest Ministries began National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week (NICIAW “for short” — I know it’s a mouth full!) in 2002 and so we are celebrating 10 years this year!
When we first began the awareness week, we had a chatroom for our virtual conference and the term “invisible illness” was rarely even seen online. Through the years, the support of many of you have made this awareness week one of the coolest events online, as thousands join in for the virtual conference (where you can wear pajamas and sip from a cup of coffee, without having to travel).
So here are some things for you to know about Invisible Illness Awareness Week for 2012:
This year’s awareness week theme is “Invisible Illness? Share Your Visible Hope!”
When is the awareness week?
September 10-16, 2012. The virtual conference online will be September 10-14 (M-F)
What is the visible hope theme supposed to mean? What does hope look like?
We plan to show people just that! We are all posting images/photos of things that keep us hopeful. Whether it is of grandkids, your pet, the sunset, the quiet time you have with God on your patio before the heat comes out–whatever! And you can post as many as you want.
Where can I get more information about the awareness week?
We have everything at our sister-site http://invisibleillnessweek.com (this will open in a new window). Please head over there for a minute and subscribe to the daily updates so you can read some great articles and stay in the loop for our speaker’s schedule in September, etc.
How does one get involved?
There are many ways over at the Invisible Illness Awareness Week website. These include, linking up your blog post about invisible illness, doing the meme “30 Things You May Not Know About My Invisible Illness,” writing a blog to be featured on the awareness week website. If you are on Twitter you can follow us @invisibleillwk. You can submit your photos, share some stuff on social networks like Facebook. We have a cool series of articles right now on “20 things to say to a person with an illness” with graphics that you can share, pin, etc. If you are on Facebook, you can find others at here too at our awareness week “page.”
First, as a Christian organization this is our annual outreach to show the world that those of us who live with chronic illness–and believe in Jesus–really do have a joy that can come only through Him. We share our resources, speakers, and more to add comfort for anyone who lives with daily chronic pain, and we hope that we provide a warm, loving environment that will help people want to know more about God. We provide some great encouragement and resources, and they can participate in whatever way they feel comfortable. (Yes, there is always a bit of “bashing” because a Christian organization is behind NICIAW, so your prayers are appreciated. It has already started for 2102.)
Secondly, years ago I saw many people with an amazing faith in God and that He would provide whatever they needed despite their illness. . . but. . . they were also becoming very angry, bitter, and resentful that those around them did not understand how much pain they were in because they “looked fine,” or “looked so good!” Together we can spread some awareness that not everything is at it appears, and encourage those we love, our churches and more, to recognize how many people are suffering silently.
And lastly, it is a time when any organization, anyone who lives with an invisible illness, can join in and spread awareness about their specific illness, or even just the emotions involved of having an invisible illness. What are some invisible illnesses or conditions that may surprise you who participate in this awareness week? Those with migraines, amnesia, eczema, cancer, panic disorders and this list goes on and on. If you have a rare condition you feel few understand, join us for Invisible Illness Awareness Week to help spread more awareness for your own illness too.
So what is this virtual conference?
We have around 20 speakers who will be presenting during Invisible Illness Awareness Week. These include Paul J. Donoghue, PhD and Mary E. Siegel, PhD, authors of the book Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired: Living With Invisible Chronic Illness., Leslie Vernick, a counselor who will share about relationships, Kelly Young of RA Warrior, Christine Miserandino of ButYouDontLookSick.com and lots more. Even if you are not on Twitter, you can see who has confirmed so far here.
So what now?
Go to http://invisibleillnessweek.com and sign up to get the daily emails! This will hook you into everything you’ll need to know.
I hope you will join me this year. On a personal note, many of you know last year was the first year we didn’t have a virtual conference. I just couldn’t do it due to my health and all the logistics involved. But I am excited this year to have it back. We don’t charge for any of this, but we don’t have a marketing budget either. Any way you are able to share about this week is appreciated. And if you are involved in any illness forums, websites, etc. this is something that you can easily share with those who are not believers, where they will find hope and a lot of stuff they can relate to in the journey of illness.
Watch tomorrow for the awareness week video from me that explains a bit more about the Images of Hope idea!