To My Loved Ones: I May Look 'Normal' but I'm Still Sick


I am not “normal.”

Now, I know what you may be thinking…Who is normal? We are all unique and special in our own individual ways. Yes, I get that. But when one is referring to chronic disease or illness, I think there actually is a “normal,” and an “abnormal.” And I, in good company with others, fall into the abnormal category.

If there is one single thing that I would like loved ones to understand is that I am just not normal. Something that I find people who are close to me have a difficult time grasping is that I am, in fact, sick. This makes me not a “normal” person in regards to health. This means that I cannot always do typical things. This means that no, I cannot always be held to the same standards as the average person, despite my constant trying and effort to meet these standards.

I do not mean this in a pretentious way at all. I just sometimes want to be recognized (but not labeled) as sick. I want people to know and understand that I have a very real disability, that I have multiple illnesses attacking my entire system at one time. That I feel exhausted 99 percent of the day, despite looking well. Despite looking like a normal, healthy person, I really am ill.

If one were to actually see how I feel on the inside like they can see my appearance, I guarantee that one would hardly believe that the outer shell and the inside consist of the same individual. That’s how drastic and contrasting these two parts of myself present.

I grew up in an environment that was always “go, go go.” Hard work was drilled into me at a young age. I always strived for good grades, and I always wanted to be the best at what I did. My parents are loving, caring parents who always wanted the best for their children, but I always felt this pressure looming over me. It may sound cliché, but the pressure to be perfect has been a trap that I have consistently fell into throughout my 25 years. I set high standards for myself, and expected nothing less than meeting them – there was no falling short.

Imagine that one day, all of what you strive to do gets put on hold. When you were running nine to 10 miles at a time, you could now barely walk without assistance. When you were used to taking as many college courses as you could fit into your schedule, you could barely take any. When you were working in an active job helping kids to ski and sail, you could barely do these activities yourself, let alone help others to do them. Imagine that everything you knew was turned upside down due to illness.

That was my reality, that is still my reality. And I know I am not alone in this. There are many out there who were perfectly healthy before they experienced the wrath of debilitating chronic illness.

And that is just what chronic illness is…Debilitating.

I have come a long way since I first fell ill. But just because I am no longer in a hospital bed, hooked up to IV’s 24/7, or walking everywhere with a walker, does not mean that I am completely better. I have shown improvement, but the pain is still there. I look healthy, but looks are deceiving. And so is chronic illness.

What I want my loved ones to know is that I am a hard worker. I strive to be the best person I can be, and I am never going to let chronic illness stop me. I will do what I have to do to live my life to the best of my ability. However, I need them to know that…I. Am. Still. Sick.

I need them to know that I come home from school or work and lie in bed as tears roll down my cheeks out of exhaustion. My body still has its limits, and sometimes I do not listen to those limits out of fear of disappointing others, and more importantly, fear of disappointing myself. I need to know that they know and understand that I am not well, but that I am still pushing through to get all of this done. I’m working towards my Masters, making some income, attending my appointments, seeing friends so I can pretend to lead a normal life.

Deep down, I know that I cannot really lead a truly normal life. Because deep down I know that I am not normal. And again, by normal, I mean healthy. Deep down, I know that I push myself too hard sometimes even when I feel like I am not pushing myself enough, because I am comparing myself to others.

I would like them to know that it may seem like I do not do as much as everyone else, but for me it is a lot. And what I do now, a part-time job and being a part-time student, sometimes leads to tears and breakdowns driving home. My body pays for every ounce of energy that I put into studying, working, running errands, attending appointments, etc.

Some days I may not even feel the price my body pays until the day after when I near passing out or experience extreme tachycardia and fatigue that leaves me bed-bound. I am doing a lot more than when I first got sick, but that doesn’t mean that my fight is over.

And that is what I would like my loved ones to know.

Just because one does not look sick, or even act sick, does not mean that they are not.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock Image By: gmast3r


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Chronic Illness

Gift or present box and flower on pink table from above. Pastel color.

The Hidden Gifts Chronic Illness Can Bring

I hate the saying “you have nothing without your health.” You don’t go away because you are ill. That’s ridiculous. You don’t become an empty shell of sickness. If you let yourself, you can be more. You know your strength. Your experiences allow you to reign over your life and your decisions in a way [...]
Couple sitting together at beach with text 17 tips if youre new to chronic illness from veterans whove been there

17 Tips If You're New to Chronic Illness, From 'Veterans' Who've Been There

It takes time to figure out how to live your best life while dealing with a chronic health condition. There’s a steep learning curve as you navigate doctors’ appointments, changing friendships and life-altering symptoms for the first time — especially because healthcare professionals probably won’t tell you exactly how your illness will affect each and every part [...]

To My Partner Who Has Remained By My Side Through Illness

Everyone living with a chronic illness knows that one of the worst parts of the whole ordeal is not having a strong support team. We may spend many days feeling invalidated because people brush our conditions aside. What we look like on the outside oftentimes doesn’t match the way we feel on the inside. They may not believe [...]
drawing of a person holding an umbrella over a flower while it rains with text saying 'random acts of kindness'

A Small Act of Kindness Can Have a Big Impact

Living with a chronic illness can, at times, feel isolating and like an ongoing test of endurance. You never know what great mountain awaits you when you first open your eyes every morning. That’s providing you were able to sleep in the first place of course, as pain and discomfort so often try to envelope you [...]