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The Invisible Bully Who Tells Me I'm a Failure Because of My Illness

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I have an invisible tormentor that you cannot see in this picture, but trust me, she is always with me. Some days her voice is a faint a whisper and on others it is as if she is riding around on my back while screaming into my ears. “You suck! You are not good enough! You are weak! And you are not really that sick.”

woman standing in baseball stadium with field behind her

I call this tormentor my chronic, but invisible illness “Guilty Bully.” On the days when my pain and symptoms are really severe, it is easier to ignore my Guilty Bully. I take some medication and go to bed and I am able to put her voice out of my head. I simply give my body over to my illness and allow myself to rest and recuperate. I realize that this is what I need in order to feel better. But most days, my symptoms are not severe, yet they are still there, just like my Guilty Bully. On these days, most people might not realize that on the inside I am struggling. They might notice my trendy but functional knee socks which are actually compression socks which help keep blood from pooling in my feet and calves and also to increase oxygen flow to my brain. Or they may notice the essential oils I inhale in an effort to stay alert and control the onset of pain. Business associates may wonder why it is that I can’t sit still for long periods of time without fidgeting. During long meetings, I am constantly twirling my feet and bending my legs in an effort keep them from losing circulation and going numb. It’s on the days when I appear somewhat healthy and normal to others that my Guilty Bully is the worst.

My Guilty Bully loves to plant dark thoughts in my head to encourage me to play mind games with myself.

Like, “Why are you taking a nap again? Everyone gets tired, just deal with it. Or, “Why were you not paying attention in the meeting at work today… do you even know what you committed to? And, “Pizza again? Why don’t you cook your kids a real meal? You are a such a terrible mother.” Finally, “You are not really that sick, people with cancer have it way worse than you do, just take a pill and suck it up.” My Guilty Bully can be evil b*tch sometimes.

She makes me feel badly about myself and makes me question how I am feeling. She pushes me to do more, faster and better. But some days, I just can’t. I just don’t have the energy and she berates me for it.

I am in a constant battle to push her off of my back so I do not have to hear her roaring at me and telling me all the ways that I am a failure because of my chronic illness.

Yes, I hate my Guilty Bully, but I am learning to live with her.

I realize she will never go away. But I also realize the more attention I pay to her, the stronger she becomes, and I am determined to keep her in her place so I can take the best care of myself and also my family. I think it’s safe to say that the chronic, but invisible illness Guilty Bully picked the wrong woman to pick on.

It’s an ongoing battle.

But one I am determined to win.

Originally published: August 10, 2016
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