When I Hide My Sick Self From the World
I am sick.
I am sick, but you’d never know it. I am sick, but I look just fine. I am sick, but I have two jobs. I am sick, but I go to school.
I am sick.
I wake up and it’s hard to move. My body aches. My sick, achy body.
I go to school and it hurts. My body throbs when I turn over the engine of my sick car.
I sit in a desk and dread the thought of getting up.
I am sick.
I have to write notes and it hurts. The pain that never leaves my body, yet I ignore it enough to not let on that I am very, very sick.
Nobody else knows. Nobody else feels it.
The feeling of having to ignore someone’s high-five because you’re too ashamed to tell them how much it hurts.
The feeling of meeting someone new and hoping they prefer hugging over handshakes because you hate to pretend you’re afraid of germs, but it is worth it if it means you don’t have to shake one more hand.
Nobody else is sick like me.
I mean that.
There is no precedent case that I know of.
The doctors don’t understand.
Promises of making me better fall through time and again. So I switch doctors and repeat. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat.
Repeat the tests.
Liver, kidneys, heart, lungs.
One more time, the tests.
This drug will be the magic potion.
This drug will heal you.
This supplement will cure anything.
Oh, just stretch.
I am sick.
Today was the day. The day I dreaded would come. The day I have been avoiding.
The Hail Mary.
Chemotherapeutic treatment it is.
But I don’t have cancer?
And I used to think I was sick.
I used to think that braces, crutches, and wheelchairs were bad. I used to cry at the thought that I looked sick.
How juvenile of me.
Because I am sick. And that’s OK.
But now, you can’t tell. I walk fine. I don’t need crutches.
I look normal.
But I am still sick. Sicker than I have ever been before. But dare I say sicker than I will ever be? No.
Except now I am sick in many more ways.
I am sick of being left out. I am sick of being left behind. I am sick of being sick.
I am sick of breathing heavily as I trudge my way up a flight of steps, only to be passed up by an irritated jock who is clearly thinking I have been eating way too many tacos.
I have. But that’s beside the point.
Two years ago, that was me. Fit. Healthy. But then I got sick.
I think the world forgets that sickness happens on the inside. I think the world still believes that if it can’t be seen, it must not exist. The world likes to paint over the scars to make us look like we are “normal.” Healthy. We paint over ourselves so that we don’t stand out against the world.
This sick world.
But you can’t paint over the inside. Only we get to see our insides. And the more the world paints, the uglier we appear.
But only to ourselves.
Because the world can’t see our sickness.
My sickness is very real. As was my friend’s.
My friend was an artist. He could paint better than anyone. Painted his whole outside to the world. It fooled me. It fooled everyone. Nobody knew he was sick. His poor, sick, sweet soul.
He had a different kind of sickness than me. But the paint was too thick. And help was too late. So into the drink he went. And sick he was no more.
For he left this sick, sick world.
He was ashamed of being sick. I am ashamed of being sick.
Because that’s how the world teaches us to act. To be ashamed. To cover it up. To hide our very sick selves because how dare we stand out against this painted version of the world!
This painted version of the world. This painted version.
Of a very sick, sick world.
The Mighty is asking the following: What’s the hardest thing you deal with as someone with a chronic illness, and how do you face this? What advice and words of support would you offer someone facing the same thing? 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.