Today’s Book of the Day is The Invisible Kingdom, written by Meghan O’Rourke in 2022 and published by Riverhead Books.

Meghan O’Rourke is an American journalist, author, speaker, and poet. She works talking about health, well-being, illness, and social psychology, aiming at improving the lives of those who suffer, both physically and emotionally.

The Invisible Kingdom, by Meghan O’Rourke

I have chosen this book as it speaks about chronic illness, and as I fight every day with my life-threatening allergies, I needed, in a certain way, to listen to someone who could relate.

This book is filled up with empathy, and it does an excellent job of explaining how some kind of illnesses can have a devastating impact on the lives of patients, who have to fight the pain, discomfort, and negative consequences of their condition while often trying to convince the doctors and the people around them that this “invisible” enemy is indeed here.

Chronic illnesses afflict millions of people around the world. The issue, for the people who have one, is that this kind of disease is usually not properly diagnosed as they are not well known even by the same doctors who are treating them. Furthermore, a chronic illness always has a negative impact on the quality of life of the patient.

Meghan O’Rourke describes her own experience mixing it with other examples of these illnesses and many interviews with doctors, patients, and researchers. In this book, the author shows how Western medicine has developed to a point where those conditions that are not easy to detect, describe, and cure end up being often neglected by doctors and society.

The Invisible Kingdom gives hope to the readers who have a chronic illness and their relatives, friends, and colleagues. The hope to be understood, to be seen, and to live a better life, where empathy and understanding are part of the therapy.

The book humanizes chronic illness. It shows how the struggles of the people who suffer from them are real, tangible, and tough. And part of the pain and the struggle comes from the invisible toll, the intangible consequences, the unmeasurable part of the illness that often leaves the patients alone.

The “Invisible Kingdom” we, people struggling with this heinous illnesses, live into, is a kingdom made of weird suggestions by therapists, who don’t see the whole picture, but try to give that kind of useless suggestions such as “stay calm”, “find support”, “relax when the pain comes”. All things that have literally zero positive effects on the illness, but many negative ones on the spirit of the sufferers.

And all of this happens as doctors, therapies, and the healthcare system as a whole are designed to treat acute issues by using pills, shots, analysis, or surgeries. All the realms of immunological diseases, systemic allergies, or multi-organ syndromes are simply not understood and not well addressed by a system that just wants to give prescriptions so the patients go away and stop going to the doctors’ practices.

The Invisible Kingdom is a must-read for anyone who suffers from chronic illnesses and for everyone around them, therapists and doctors included.


6 thoughts on “Book of the Day – The Invisible Kingdom

  1. I’m reading this now and it’s so powerful. It’s painful to recognize my own experience in hers, but also validating after so many years of being told it’s all in my head. I’m glad this book exists.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can totally relate!
      I was relieved in finding someone sharing what I pass through every day.
      I am still being told that my systemic allergies (to almost everything on this planet) are “not as visible as a broken bone”, so probably they are not that bad, after all. I should just stop complaining.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have a regulated immune system, so can relate to both the frequent allergic reactions and (unfortunately) also being dismissed by doctors. It can be so hard and isolating. I hope that your health improves, or you least find a good of stability.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks for caring!
          I am afraid that, as mine seems to be a genetic-related/autoimmune allergy, there are no therapies. I can control it through attention, self-care, and … well, even some luck.
          I also hope that for you it may be better!

          Liked by 1 person

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