Five years ago, I discovered that I had left temporal epilepsy, a condition that causes unprovoked seizures. To manage it, I was prescribed medication. While the medication controls the brain activity, the downside was experiencing fatigue, long sleep cycles, anxiety and nausea. What made the journey harder was knowing that my struggle with this condition had no cause identified, and was an invisible battle with myself.
The conversation about invisible disability is often overlooked, especially at the workplace, because it isn’t outwardly noticeable. I recall feeling hesitant in opening up to others about my struggles because I wasn’t sure if people would misunderstand me or question the legitimacy of my condition. The turning point for me was when I started opening up to a small group of friends, and each time, they would remind me that my condition does not define me. It gave me the confidence to widen that circle of trust.
These conversations became an opportunity for me to help others understand what invisible disability means, and through sharing, I became more confident about who I am in my personal and professional life. At work, I believe it is essential to foster a safe space where people with disabilities can openly share their experiences with others to build a deeper level of shared understanding and awareness. I recently had the opportunity to share my journey with hundreds of Googlers to dispel misconceptions about having an invisible disability. The level of curiosity from Googlers who wanted to learn more comforted me, and it reaffirmed that in an inclusive and supportive culture, I can be my authentic self. My hope is that others living with invisible disabilities can experience a world that’s genuine, understanding, and compassionate.
This Invisible Disabilities Week, I connected with Googlers from Korea and Singapore — Eri and Seokhyun — to share their stories.
Eri Shinose, Global Product Lead, Singapore / US
Could you share more about your condition?
I have undefined diabetes, where my body cannot handle insulin well, causing hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. I usually have to constantly monitor my insulin and glucose level and eating schedules every two hours, or else I experience dizziness, fatigue, blurry eyesight and nausea. In extreme situations, it may lead to fainting and seizures. The symptoms are primarily invisible, making it difficult to communicate about the problem.