Some disabilities aren’t exactly visible. They don’t require a wheelchair, a hearing aid or any other piece of equipment that helps us know to give up our seats on the subway or not shake our heads when we see a seemingly able-bodied person park their car in a handicap parking spot.
In fact, about 20% of people in the U.S. live with a disability, according to the 2010 U.S. census, but millions of those individuals live with what’s commonly referred to as “invisible” or “non-appearing” disabilities like depression, epilepsy, chronic pain disorder or learning disabilities.
These disabilities may vary in terms of severity or symptoms, but the people who live with them have one thing in common: They often encounter others who don’t know these disabilities exist at all, and even more resistance to understand what it’s like to live with these issues.
Here are six things people who live with invisible disabilities want people to know about what their experience is like — and, most importantly, how others can best understand and support them.