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To the Person Who's Been Ridiculed for Your Pain

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An excruciating, electrifying shock strikes my leg, causing me to jolt awake. I turn and face my nightstand and reach out to grab my phone. Another pain hits me, and I wrap myself up into the fetal position. I finally grab my phone to look at the time; it’s 3:12 a.m. It’s Tuesday, and that means I have school in the morning.

My nerves continue to fire, and I continue not to get any sleep. I spend the next few hours crying off and on, staring at my bedroom ceiling, counting the plastic glow-in-the-dark stars I stuck in my room years ago. My mom pokes her head into my room and tells me it’s time to get up for school. I go through the motions of getting ready, and I try not to complain about the pain I’m feeling. Everything I do feels as though it takes 10 times the effort it normally does. I look at the clock, and of course I am late again.

As I walk through the classroom, I can’t help but feel as though everyone is staring. I feel they can see my weakness. I can feel their eyes burning through my skin, but then I realize the burning feeling is just another nerve pain. I sit through my first period class impatiently, because English is the only class I actually enjoy this year. My legs cannot keep still as I wait for the class to end, but that’s normal for me since I have restless leg syndrome. Second period finally hits, and I can’t be happier. As my block English class winds to an end, I fill with dread, and my happiness from English fades quickly.

I hate my next class. I hate the way I feel when I’m in class. I hate how if I miss one day, I will be drowning in homework. My anxiety kicks in as soon as I walk through the doorway. I speed to my seat without a word. My classmates watch me walk into the room as if I’m wearing tattered clothes and have grown a beard. People ask me where I’ve been and make remarks like, “It must be nice to miss school whenever you want.” These remarks make me realize just how much being sick has made me grow up. I shut them out. Shutting them out, unfortunately, makes the focus on my pain stronger. I whimper from a muscle spasm in my arm. The girl sitting next to me looks at me as though I’m contagious. I think about how nobody in the room understands how awful it is to have to deal with pain and ridicule daily. I question why I have to go through this. I also reflect on how wise of a choice it was to graduate early. I start to remember about the time an old friend of mine messaged me and told me how I need to stop complaining about my pain and “grow a pair” because whatever is wrong with me is not as bad as what they have to go through. I remember how much that affected me. It showed me how people sometimes see those who are reaching out for help.

That’s why I am how I am now. I only trust very few people to listen to my ailments, and no one at school falls in that category. The reason for that is because people are mean, and the world can be cruel. I snap back to class and realize I missed a few things my teacher said. I collect myself and act as though everything is normal, as I usually do. The bell rings for the end of the class. I pick up my books and walk out of the room hastily. I just keep reminding myself that the only comments I need to take to heart are the positive and influential ones I receive from people who actually care about my well-being.

My advice to anyone who has gone through or will go through this is to find your safe haven of people. People who know you best and who genuinely care are the ones to share your struggles with. For me, those people are my family and my boyfriend. For people who may not feel like they can go to someone else to talk about your ailments, I urge you to join a medical chat group. There you can find people who may have the same ailment or struggles. I’ve found that just being able to talk about it, even if the other person doesn’t know what to say, feels relieving. Finding your outlet is so important, so you don’t have to feel like you’re going through it alone or like no one understands. Let them understand.

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to anyone you wish had a better understanding of your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Originally published: February 2, 2016
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