The Mighty Logo

To the Teacher Who Called Me a 'Part-Timer'

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

To my English teacher who called me a “part-timer”:

I’ll never forget that moment. You were going down the list of names as you were taking attendance. Suddenly, in front of the whole class, you stopped and said, “And is the part-timer in today?”

• What is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
• What Are Common Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Symptoms?

Then you looked at me.

The best part was, you thought you were calling me out for something of which I wasn’t already aware.

I knew I was missing a lot of school, but that’s what can happen when someone has an invisible illness.

You may have thought you were being funny, maybe you were just trying to be cruel, but I never forgot it.

At the time, I was missing school because of stomach issues. No matter what I ate, I would be in a huge amount of pain. I was so fatigued that I never wanted to do anything. I had every test run, and still everything came back negative.

I questioned myself on a regular basis whether or not I was truly sick.

No one should feel this type of self-doubt. No one deserves to experience this.

You may have felt clever that day, as if you were the first person to make fun of me for being sick, but you weren’t.

Instead, you were showing the class how ignorance to chronic illness is bliss, and that you couldn’t see beyond what you assumed was true.

If my teacher had only taken the time and talked with me, maybe she would have understood what I was going through.

To others living with a chronic illness, I suggest advocating for yourself. I wasn’t strong enough at the time to stand up for myself, but ignorance will never go away without advocacy.

Educate others, and hopefully the support will be there to follow.

Originally published: April 30, 2019
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home