What This Picture Won't Tell You About My Battle With Endometriosis
What is that saying we have all heard most likely a great deal of times? Never judge a book by its cover. Yet, it is something we all do unintentionally on a day-to-day basis. I mean, I am guilty of it. And I am sure a majority of you reading this are too. Society is so quick to judge. That is just what we do. We humans have become accustomed to this vicious cycle. Since my endometriosis diagnosis, my view on others has altered quite a bit. I find myself glancing at others and as an alternative to judging, I find I now try to read them. What is it they are thinking, feeling and going through at that exact instant?
Everyone has a story, to some extent. I think we sometimes forget this. As an individual in the chronic illness community, I have realized that many overlook my story. Look at this picture. What do you see?
You probably see my smile, big brown eyes and the fact that I look happy and healthy. However, what about it can you not see? You do not see that in this picture in particular, I am in pain. I took this picture on a high pain day. From the “cover of the book,” you would never know that. You would never know I had just spent the hour crying in agony. You would never know I just had an anxiety attack and was ready to give up on life. You would never think to look past the cover, and see what is going on inside my book.
On most days, I do things at levels of pain I do not know if others would be able to tolerate. I put a smile on, and I do what I have to do to get through the day. If I did not do that, I would not have any kind of life. In return, people tend to think I am having a “good day.” In reality, it is just me trying to be stronger than the pain. On days like this picture, where I am hurting, I tend to feel the judgment from people. “You look fine!” “You don’t even look sick!” Lines I hear all too often. However, I am grateful I do not look sick, even though I do not really know what someone who is “sick” is supposed to look like. No hair, thin as a rail, pale skin? Are those the terms used to define someone who is “sick?” Why do we have to look a certain way in order to be in the sick category? I am sure many others who are struggling with a chronic illness ask those same precise questions.
I am here today to tell you, the society and those who love to judge, there is no written code that explains what a sick person is supposed to look like. My picture is proof and so are so many others pictures with chronic illnesses. Some of us rock smiles, some of us have luscious hair, while others may not have either of those things. However, that does not matter. Besides my tired eyes, my illness does not occur on the outside of my body. What is happening happens inside. From one simple glance, you would never guess that. Maybe one day I was able to get into the car, drive to work and get through the day with a smile, but that was my outsides you were seeing, the cover of my book. What you did not get to see was that I got into the car after crouching down for a few minutes holding my stomach until the pains passed. What you did not see were the few seconds I did take the smile off my face while I tried to breathe deeply and shake off the dizzy spell. What you did not see was the discomfort I was feeling.
My illness is invisible. You will not ever see what it looks like. In fact, most days, you will see me exactly the way you see me in this picture. With a smile, fighting and pushing to get through the day. Always remember though, there is more to a person than just what their cover looks like. When you look at a person, remember that person has a story. Everyone has gone through something in their life that has changed them. Instead, be curious, not judgmental.
We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.