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When Chronic Illness Turns You Into a Superhero (and a Supervillain)

On a good day, I’m the chronic illness superhero!

Or that’s how it feels, anyway, the fact that I can get up and walk without being helped up and maneuvered into position for a start. The fact that I can see my rheumatologist — or is it the occupational therapist who wants to see me today.

You see, this is what it’s like for me. I have what they call an “overlap,” so in other words, they want to fight over you — or worse, one of them (usually the rheumatologist) tells you they have no need to see you anymore, but the other one demands you go back and see them.

So you end up feeling like Spider-Man wanting to crawl up walls if you had the powers or the energy left.

Then you wish you were a hero who stored every single memory you’ve experienced so that when one of these professionals ask you which came first, the chronic fatigue or the pain associated with fibromyalgia, you could actually give them a definitive answer.

Then on the days you don’t feel well, you want to turn into the Invisible Woman from the Fantastic Four.

But then you have the supervillain side, too, the side that wants to scream at anyone and everything because you are in so much pain and nothing is working.

The side that looks like a comic villain with big beard because it takes too much energy to have a shave and because it hurts your skin because of sensitivity.

These illnesses, especially when you have more than one, can turn you into a whole comic book of superheroes and villains.

I believe the only good thing about it is that, like every comic book, there is a sidekick, and my wife is a very good and understanding one.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images


Fibromyalgia, a chronic illness with three main symptoms — widespread pain, chronic fatigue and cognitive trouble. Fibromyalgia is a complicated illness that’s not well understood. In the past, it was mischaracterized as a mental health disorder. Even today, some doctors wave off fibro symptoms as being “all in your head.” This isn’t the case. Read The Mighty’s comprehensive guide to fibromyalgia here. Click here to join our fibro community and connect with people who get it.