Why I sometimes wish my illness weren't invisible.
Look at this picture.
Do you see anything ‘abnormal’ about it? No?
I get it. I don’t either. If you showed me a similar picture of someone else without any context, I wouldn’t see anything unusual either.
Just a girl, dressed up and smiling.
That is why my illness is called invisible.
Invisible #Disability or illness means that you are sick but it doesn’t show on the outside.
If someone were to judge you on the basis of your looks, they would say you are completely healthy.
Now if I tell you the back story of this picture, things wouldn’t quite be the same.
Can you tell that I took 10+ medicines apart from my usual ones a day before and that I had to increase the dosage of my usual medicines and add a few new medicines to my list a couple of weeks before?
That I took anti histamines, painkillers, anti #Anxiety, nausea/dizziness medicines and a load more, all so that I could gather up strength and hold together for a few hours?
And that I prepared for months in advance just so I could go out for a while on my birthday?
Can you tell that I slathered myself in heat absorbing spray before leaving the house so as to not pass out in the Sun?
Or that I was crying my eyes out for 3 continuous hours the night before? And I didn’t sleep until 6 am that day because I was in so much pain?
Well, makeup is powerful. Isn’t it?
Just dab some concealer on your dark circles, hide the allergy marks, make your eyes look bigger by eye liner, put on some lipstick and voila you are a new and a ‘healthy’ person altogether!
Also, smile a lot even if it’s hurting and talk about fun things (which doesn’t include your illness obviously) and noone can tell there’s anything wrong with you.
It takes practice though, to become skilled at pretending to be fine.
But it always works.
And that is why I’m judged by almost everyone I know. Just because I look healthy.
But in reality, I sometimes don’t look this healthy. I have huge bags and dark circles under my eyes.
My hands are almost always dry and flaky, sometimes bleeding due to dryness.
My temperature fluctuates so much that I either have a bright flush on my face or my feet and nails go bluish.
My back is always swollen up and tender and my stomach is always bloated. I have allergy scars and bruises everywhere.
And dry patches or allergy induced pimples.
So much more.
I have been judged so many times in my life for how I look. People say that I’m doing fine just because I am walking, talking and smiling.
I remember someone visited me a couple of years back and when they went away, they said something behind my back (which obviously came back to me) that really stung.
They said this – “No no she was looking perfectly fine. She came outside,sat with us and chatted for a long time. She has gained so much weight, she looks perfectly healthy. She isn’t as ill as she pretends to be.”
And let me tell you, they did not use polite words when they said this ; it was the words they used that hurt even more.
I was heartbroken that this person whom I had loved, respected and looked upto all my life, would say something like this behind my back.
It was like I had to fall and faint in front of others to prove my illness because if they saw me smiling and talking, I was instantly either
a) a liar and attention seeker
b) Completely cured (oh how I wish this was true).
I do look healthy most times but I also look sick and malnourished at other times.
Sometimes I might look weak but I’m feeling quite good or might look ‘fine’ when I am struggling with pain.
So, don’t judge me based on my looks.
Don’t say that “Wow, you look so much better” when you see me.
If you really think I’m looking good and want to give a compliment, say something along the lines of, “Wow you look pretty” but please please don’t link that to my health.
I understand you might not have bad intentions at all and you might just want to make me feel better but these words hurt. Because I am judged everyday of my life for this.
Just don’t say I look healthy.
It hurts when such a severe and debilitating illness is not validated just because of how I look.
And trust me as much as I am grateful that I can be this sick but still look good most of the times, there have been times in the past when I have wished for my illness to be visible just so I wouldn’t be forced to prove my illness at every step of my life.
Because if I really looked like I feel on the inside, I’m sure I would have been taken seriously by all the medical professionals who ‘saw’ nothing wrong with me. I would have received the treatment I deserved.
I wouldn’t have to leave my college because then my teachers and classmates would have cooperated with me and I would be graduated today.
I wouldn’t have to fight for my basic rights.
I would have got maintainance from my father in the court without having to constantly prove that I am unfit to work and provide for myself.
I wouldn’t be mocked by my relatives and judged by my friends because I didn’t visit them even though I was just fine yesterday.
And all of this is not limited just to me.
There are millions of people all over the globe who are fighting invisible illnesses but aren’t able to get the support and health they deserve because they look ‘fine’.
All you need to do is not judge, not pass comments, not be rude when you see a ‘healthy’ person sitting in a wheelchair or parking at the disability spot.
You cannot tell what is actually going on with a person just by looking at them.
Please try to be a little kind and understanding when you encounter someone with a #ChronicIllness or invisible disability.
It would mean the world to us.