The Mighty Logo

I Wish People Had the 'X-Ray Vision' It Takes to See My Invisible Illness

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

My illness is rarely visible. When I was first heard about fibromyalgia being an “invisible” illness, it was like my world made sense. It filled what I was feeling but couldn’t put to words.

As a teenager, I would sit out of P.E. because walking, running or anything having to do with moving my legs was extremely painful. Some classmates would think I was making it up so that I “didn’t sweat.” All right, I’ll give them that. I hate sweating, but I would take sweating to be a normal teenager. They were normal. They would get sick and then get better. Everyone could see that they were sick. Their noses would be red, they would cough nonstop or sneeze. Mine was different.


My close friends would see me taking pills. One even gave me a pill holder key chain. It was thoughtful for a 14-year-old. It was the way they could see my illness. They could see my collection of pharmacy bottles on my nightstand. They could see my tears when I couldn’t get comfortable in my seat and the pain was quickly climbing up. Those were the only times it would be visible.

Those who weren’t close to me had other thoughts. “She’s making that up.” “There’s nothing wrong with her.” I would hear it when I turned away. They couldn’t wait until I was out of earshot. My invisible illness was questioned each day.

Fortunately, my doctors did not question my illness. It was like they had x-ray vision and could see my pain like a colored smoke around my legs. They were my saviors. Their belief in my words and me was, and still is, the best feeling in the world.

I wish others had this x-ray vision my doctors have. My adolescent life would have been better. My life wouldn’t be spent defending my pain.

My invisible illness would be visible.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via video-doctor.

Originally published: July 18, 2017
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