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What You Don't See With My Invisible Illness

Invisible illness. The silent sufferer. The silent killer. Nobody knows how bad it is — because they can’t see it.

Since I’ve gotten sick, the hardest part has always been the stigma that comes with an illness hiding inside of you.

A human body has 46 miles worth of nerve endings. With my illness, that is 46 miles worth of opportunity for a tumor to grow on every single one. Compressing, growing, causing unimaginable pain. But you can’t see that.

My left arm is currently paralyzed, but you don’t realize that. I had to relearn how to use my body and learn to walk again three years ago after I had two, 15-hour spine surgeries in a month. But you don’t see the effects that still impact me today. I can’t feel my working hand, but I learned to use it without sense of touch.

It’s still hard. But you don’t see that. I have multiple dangerous tumors in and around my body right now. But you can’t see. I take 16 medications just to help me survive. But I don’t tell you. I sleep all day because my body is too weak to get up. My levels are so low, body so weak, I sometimes pass out and don’t realize for hours. I’ve had to teach myself that death is OK — and sometimes, with my illness, is inevitable. I’ve had several near-death experiences in my 22 years of life. But I didn’t tell you that either.

Society has taught us to believe that illness only looks like one thing — what you see in commercials, on TV and social media. Invisible illness can be a silent life-ruiner, killer. It can rip the floor up beneath your feet. Makeup, hair products and clothing do not indicate my health status. The photos you see on social media do not define my body’s status. I post my good days, achievements. You do not see the pain, the fight and the sadness.

Invisible illness is real, and we deserve recognition — because we are fighting the hardest battle all.

Photo courtesy of the author