It's an odd mixture: wanting to be seen and heard, but also wanting to just blend in with the crowd.
You see, when you look 'normal,' people don't understand. You get so many questions: Why do you wear a mask? Why do you need to rest? What's that for? Why do you go to the doctor so much? Why do you take so much medicine? The list goes on and on and it feels as though you have to answer all the questions. It’s embarrassing when you don’t want the attention, to be singled out. You just want to look and be ‘normal.’
Then there’s the other questions: Are you really tired? Are you really not feeling well? Do you really need all those doctors? You seem fine; what’s wrong?
What’s wrong? What’s WRONG?! How do I even begin to explain it to you?
See, I’m medically complex. I need about 10 minutes to explain my history to a specialist. To you? Give me at least an hour. I promise you’ll probably check out after the first two minutes though.
See, I look ‘normal.’ You can’t see what’s going on inside of me. You expect me to be normal and it’s easier for you to handle me if I am. So, when you ask and I try to explain, you’ll tune me out because it’s just too much. I know you mean well, but I also know you’d rather not know.
It’s hard to be invisible.
See, I’m so used to being sick that I don’t know what being healthy feels like anymore. And, I’m only 8.
See, I sleep 11-12 hours and still feel tired all day.
See, I have a new infection every month and about 4-6 viruses a month as well. You probably don’t even notice them though.
See, I cough every morning and night. I cry because I’m so exhausted when I get home from school. I choke on my own mucus and cough up big gobs of it. My chest hurts from inflammation. My sinuses are inflamed. My teeth, ears, and head hurt from the pressure. I lose interest in food and often can’t eat because of tooth pain. I’m not gaining weight. My joints are hypermobile so I fatigue quicker than you. I’m so restless in my sleep that I’m never well rested. My legs go numb from sitting in one spot. I’m on an antibiotic that tastes awful for 2 weeks every month. And, I just want to be like you.
So, next time you go to ask, maybe don’t. If I’m brave enough to talk, maybe listen. Because it’s hard to be me.
And if you see me smiling, active, and telling you it’s all okay. It’s okay to believe my mask. But, please remember, you never know the weight that someone else is carrying.