“But you don’t look that sick”.
I heard that for the first time, from someone I have not seen in years and to be honest, they are right. Sometimes, I don’t look sick. In fact, it’s amazing what a little concealer and blush can do. It even confuses me on the days when my face is glowing and healthy, because it doesn’t pertain to how I actually feel inside.
What they don’t see is the amount of daily effort put into physiotherapy, diet, and self care to keep my pain levels down, or the amount of tears I shed from the burning and stabbing pains, the lack of sleep, the bald patches on my scalp, or the days and months where I actually do look sick. Where I can’t hide how unwell I feel and no amount of makeup can cover up my dark circles or my slow limited walking.
Anybody with an illness knows that you have your good days and your bad days. When you have “good” days, you just want to try and enjoy what you can and distract your mind from what is going on inside your body. This could be spending time with friends and family and taking photo’s of the great memories you’re making together… and then posting them to social media.
Posting photo’s on social media is a double edged sword for someone with an invisible illness. If you post yourself outside your home and having fun, you’re not that sick and if you post yourself lying in bed in pain, you’re attention-seeking. And what if you do both? Then you’re lying about your illness. It seems some people are under the impression to be sick or disabled, you have to be depressed, housebound 24/7 and not partake in any activities you once loved before your illness started. So pretty much, a prison. My life right now might be difficult, but a picture of me smiling reminds me I’m still me. I look back and see I’ve survived so far, and that can sometimes motivate me to keep fighting for recovery.
It breaks my heart knowing that there are so many people with invisible illness who regularly hear, “But you don’t look that sick”. For those of you spoonies reading this, know that you are seen, and that you are believed. We are given this one life, because we are strong enough to live it. The fear of judgement should not hold us back from trying to live a happy, somewhat normal life.
My goal as I write this post, is to spread awareness about invisible illness and to gently remind you that people are fighting battles we don’t know anything about, and that goes for all of us, not just those who are chronically ill.