Suffering the Silence: Portraits of Chronic Illness

This beautiful photography project, Suffering the Silence, aims to make more visible the millions of Americans suffering from invisible illnesses:

The stigma surrounding chronic illness can leave people feeling misunderstood, alone, dismissed, and silenced. When someone doesn’t look visibly sick, one can often forget what their life is like behind the scenes. Eleven New Yorkers spoke out about life with chronic illness, breaking their silence and painting a living portrait of what it is like to live with chronic disease. We will no longer suffer in silence.

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How might we use simple, participatory art projects like this to raise awareness about ME?
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Check out more of their photos
Or tweet your own using the hashtag #sufferingthesilence

Looking for inspiration for your activism? Check out more great ideas or see our other resources.

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3 thoughts on “Suffering the Silence: Portraits of Chronic Illness”

  1. Beth Elaine Boel

    The simplicity of this intrigues me. Why couldn’t we join this campaign and launch our photos on August 8 in honor of Severe ME Day? Just a thought.

  2. I think this idea could translate really well to ME. Pictures of our “before” selves, and our “after” selves, in bed or elsewhere. If emotionally honest, these portraits could be extremely powerful.
    Or, pics of patients in bed, sufferinf, with a short statement about their life and levels of achievement before ME, like “before ME: Graduated 3rd in her law school class. After ME: couldn’t brush her own teeth.”

  3. i’d like to participate, but don’t have a camera or smart phone. don’t know if this site is actually working since i can’t see my name or email address in the above fields.
    i’ve been ill since 1990, diagnosed in 1994 with CFS, then a few years later with fibromyalgia. i’ve never had an ME diagnosis, but my symptoms are the same, with some additional medical issues. spent many years bed-bound.
    prior to getting ill i was a systems engineer for an international medical software company. i loved my job and enjoying time off with my friends. i was very active and engaged, and liked to travel. that was another life. everything is totally different now. i’m unable to work and my social interactions are limited. i try to visit my family across the country once a year, but i have to stay for 3-4 weeks to allow time to recoup before getting back on the plane. i barely keep up with my house and daily to-do list.
    my body is currently a mini pharmaceutical company, complete with side effects. but, it does make life a little more manageable. i can relate to the people who feel like they would be better off dead, but life continues. aging doesn’t help. but, some of my friends can now relate to my medical issues, which is a blessing. still, i’ve felt like an old lady for the past 25 years.
    so much of my budget is spent on medical bills, going from doctor to doctor, taking many tests and paying for meds. i’m very upset that social security benefits for people with disabilities in the US are slated to be cut by 19% in 2016. what will we do then?! i think that very few people are aware of this problem, so we need to make some noise. please help. thanks.
    -dee

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