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I Shouldn't Have to Legitimize My Pain for Others to Believe Me

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“Why doesn’t anyone believe me?”

I ask myself this question too often.

I have chronic pain and suffer with it every day, but no one believes me. On days I can’t get out of bed, or days I go to the ER because the pain is unbearable, people still don’t believe me. Not my friends, my coworkers, my doctors… no one believes I’m sick.

Each hospital visit and doctor appointment draws more questions from my employer. “Why were you there again? Did they help you? Are you better now? When will you be back in the office? Can we have a note from the doctor?”

Every cancelled plan pushes friends away. “Why do you always cancel plans? You never feel well. You never want to hang out. Why don’t you take some pain medicine and come hang out with us anyway?”

Every plea for a hysterectomy gets shut down. “You’re too young. You’ll change your mind later. You’ll regret it. The pain isn’t that bad, is it? You don’t want to go into menopause, do you?”

Why do I have to legitimize my pain and illness to everyone around me? Especially my friends, employer and doctors?

I am made to feel guilty about my chronic illness that I have no control over. How come it’s not enough for me to express my pain and sickness? Why does everyone need proof? Are my words and cries for help not enough?

It seems like no one believes us. Many doctors won’t give us pain medicine, because they think we are lying and just want drugs. Many employers don’t trust us being off work, so they need proof of illness. Why aren’t we credible enough?

I shouldn’t have to provide my ER summary as documentation of my illness. I shouldn’t have to explain to my friends that I can’t get out of bed because of my pain. I shouldn’t have to listen to doctors or old ladies tell me that I’m too young to make decisions about my sick body.

I shouldn’t have to legitimize my illness to anyone.

My words should be enough. I am more than my bloodwork and scans and vital signs. I am more than what you see on the outside. I am the only person who knows how I feel, so maybe you should start taking me seriously.

Photo by Christian Fregnan on Unsplash

Originally published: September 7, 2018
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