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Why I'm Honest About My Invisible Illnesses

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If you know me at all, whether as my best friend or as a stranger who just stumbled upon my life online, you know what my challenges are — even the ones you can’t see. That’s the way I like it, and here’s why:

Shame is not an option.

There are about 500 things about me that are more interesting and significant than my illnesses, but without this mind and this body, I wouldn’t exist as I am today. I have grown into someone I love (or at least that’s the goal) because of and in spite of all of my challenges: chemical, physical, or some mysterious combination… they are part of me, not a bad choice I made or a mistake in design. I can’t be sorry for that.

Knowledge is power.

I want to know everything I can to make my life better, and I want that knowledge to be available to anyone who needs it. That can’t happen if we’re not talking about what our challenges really look like. I add to the conversation whenever I feel comfortable enough to because the exchange of ideas is how we grow as individuals, become better friends, and get closer to the truth.

We all need allies.

Personal and professional allies are everything, and that’s doubly true when you have built-in challenges that require some help. I’m always trying to find mine and keep them close, and the best way to do that is to let the world know who you are. The right people tend to find you if you’re willing to let them.

I want to defy your expectations.

You’re going to see me struggle, but you’re also going to see me shine. Those are two conditions that exist in tandem on a daily basis, so don’t think that the existence of one makes the other impossible for you or anyone else. We all hate the stigma that surrounds our illnesses, and the best way to fight it is often through small displays of evidence to the contrary.

You still might not understand or agree with my decision to talk about my invisible illnesses or share articles like this one, but I need to keep speaking my truth anyway. I hope you can do the same.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Originally published: May 3, 2018
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