Eliza lee

@eliza_lee | contributor
I'm an aspiring writer, sharing my personal experiences with physical and mental health conditions
Eliza lee

A Warning to Others: How My Eating Disorder Started

As the new year is just around the corner, it’s not surprising that my newsfeed is already full of people sharing their weight loss goals and inspiration. While people lose weight for many different reasons, there can be a thin line between a healthy diet and disordered eating. This line is becoming even harder to spot with the continued glamorization of eating disorders , online influencers sharing their unhealthy diet tips and the government encouraging people to lose weight. As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder on and off for eight years, I thought it would be a good idea to share my experience living with an eating disorder  in the hopes of bringing awareness to the not-so-glamorous side of it all. People often associate an eating disorder with the desire to lose weight and young girls starving themselves in secret. Except eating disorders don’t discriminate against age, race, weight or gender. They can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons, and from my experience, it certainly didn’t start with the desire to lose weight. And while it would be easy for me to blame it on years of dance, bullying or the dainty models I saw on the covers of magazines, none of it would be true. My dance teachers never pressured me into losing weight,  I was never bullied at school and I didn’t read magazines, so where did it all start? For me, it probably started when I was around 12, however, it didn’t properly manifest until I was around 14. It’s hard to pinpoint where it all began, but I remember getting food poisoning and suddenly becoming terrified of food. The more I fed the fear, the more I enjoyed the feeling of hunger. I didn’t even see it as a problem, in my eyes, I was only doing it to keep myself healthy. People also assume that an eating disorder is for attention, but I found that the more attention I got, the more I would hide it and the more I tried to convince people I was OK. It got to the point that it would get me into trouble in school. I would open food in class as blatantly as possible knowing that seconds later it would be confiscated, and that worked wonders. The teachers thought I was eating but in reality, I was buying food knowing I would never have to eat it. It wasn’t until I went on a school holiday that somebody realized something wasn’t quite right. We were at dinner, and while everyone was eating, I was sat there happy and chatting away. I had a teacher see right through this. The next day at breakfast, she sat next to me and wanted to see me eat, and I wanted to eat so badly; just so that she’d go away. I don’t think I’d ever experienced fear quite like it and it resulted in me sat outside panicking about having to eat and being comforted by a friend. That is the moment I realized that there was a problem, except it was probably too late for me to do anything about it. I thought I had it all under control, until that moment. So I did what any teen would do and took to social media looking for support. I never found that support, I was greeted with open arms and encouragement. Finally, I found people who understood. They gave me tips on how to hide it better, how to lose more weight and filled my head with lies. I went looking for help and instead, I found myself in the depths of “pro- anorexia ” Tumblr and Instagram. From that point on, it all went downhill. I found myself obsessed with all things food, challenging myself to eat less and less. I sometimes wondered if people noticed but didn’t care. I was in and out of my head of years office, and at one point I was shaking so badly that the school thought I was withdrawing from drugs or overdosing. They, of course, called home but nothing more was done. As I was a pretty good snowboarder and I trained three times a week, I was able to convince the majority of people that I was just tired from training. Teachers said things and watched me as if I might breakdown at any moment but never looked any further into it. Eventually, I was reported to my head of year but I told her I was fine. I read somewhere that asking for help is the hardest thing you can do and I never believed it until I tried to ask for help a week or so later, but it was harder than I thought. My head of year told me that unless I told her what was wrong, she couldn’t do anything for me. That was probably the last time I asked her for help, every time she saw me it felt like I was playing 20 questions. She was trying her best to help me, but as she said herself unless I talked to her there’s not much more she could do. I appreciate everything she tried to do to help me, but at the time all I wanted to do was get away from her questioning, and lucky for me I was 16, months away from leaving high school and just about to take my study leave. That summer I worked so hard on getting better, I kept myself distracted and threw myself even further into sports. This encouraged me to gain weight and become healthy and by the time I got into college, I thought I’d finally done it! I stayed committed to eating well and staying active, I was even offered the opportunity to snowboard and compete around Europe, which I accepted as soon as the offer was on the table. That offer gave me something to focus on, and I knew that the five years I had spent training was all worth it. But then I got injured. I landed badly off a jump and was airlifted to the hospital. They gave me strict instructions to let myself recover and make sure I kept my neck brace on. I didn’t listen, took the neck brace off the second I left and was back training less than 24 hours later, heavily concussed but still riding. A couple of weeks after I concussed myself again, I sat out for maybe 20 minutes then was back training. Head injuries are common for snowboarders, it comes hand in hand with throwing yourself off of jumps. I insisted I was fine so, nobody stopped me. About a week later I had to be back in college so I went, and that is when problems started. I thought it was because I was overworked so I ignored it for months as the pain built up. Before I knew it, I was in and out of the hospital for tests and treatments. I had diagnosis after diagnosis thrown at me, and it felt like my life was entirely out of my control. So I went back to what I knew; the comfort of my eating disorder . It allowed me to stop focusing on the physical problems and numb my emotions. My mental health was in a downwards spiral but people were so focused on the physical that they ignored the less obvious. My joints were wrecked,  I was malnourished and I was being treated under neurology. This allowed my eating disorder to go completely unnoticed. It made me wonder how much of it was my own doing, if years of disordered eating had caused my joints to fail me or if the doctors were right and it was a direct result of recurrent head injury . The more college I missed the more friends I lost, convinced that I was lying and faking my pain. The things that people get most wrong about eating disorders is how much harm they cause. My hair fell out, I was damaging my bones and I couldn’t stand for more than 10 minutes without blacking out. I was sneaky and I would self-sabotage my friendships. Blocking people out of my life the second they showed the slightest concern. Nobody told me that my eating disorder would make me skip classes to have panic attacks in the toilets; only to go back as if nothing was wrong and smile and laugh. Nobody told me that after college, I would walk around in the pouring rain for hours so I didn’t have to go home and eat. And nobody told me how much I would hurt the people around me. One of the things I regret most about it is how much it hurt my mum in the depths of it all. She would text me wanting to know where I was and what I was doing, why I stopped eating and I’d wake up to find her at the end of my bed crying, watching me as I slept making sure I was still breathing and begging me to eat. All the while I told her I was fine, that she was imagining and I would yell and lash out saying things that I didn’t mean. Sometimes I wonder how I survived it all, it would have been so easy to just give up and I had nothing left to lose. But if I’m being honest, my friends and my teachers saved my life. If it wasn’t for them I don’t think I would be here today. They were the support system I never knew I needed. They dragged me back up and encouraged me to fight. They comforted me as a cried and told me that it was all going to be OK and while I didn’t believe them, I fought for them. I don’t think I will ever be able to repay any of them for it. If there’s something that you take away from this I hope its how easily eating disorders can slip into your life without notice and how they’re not as glamorous as the media may portray them.

Eliza lee

The Visible Symptoms of My 'Invisible' Illness

I was looking through old photos and thinking about how quickly things can change in the space of a year and I noticed one major change in my photos. I went from being a healthy-looking girl with a sporty frame to a person who looked like they were on the verge of snapping. All within the space of six months. It made me think about all the diagnoses and symptoms I had accumulated over the year and I realized they were all considered invisible. Except, I look visibly ill on camera. So why am I considered invisible? How can somebody claim that I looked healthy when my skin had turned translucent, my hair was falling out and I had bags the size of Jupiter under my eyes? And that’s what you notice without even knowing me! In person it is even more visible: I climb the stairs at a tortoise’s pace and need breaks between floors, I have a noticeable limp from pain in my knees and I can’t say more than a few words without completely losing my train I thought. With all these very visible symptoms it makes you wonder what it would take to be classed as visibly ill. I am visibly ill to look at, some days more than others, but when I’m not wearing my braces or using a crutch I guess if you look at me for a split second you’d think I’m pain-free, but you’d only have to watch me for a minute or two to notice the effects that chronic illness has on me. I have always been an energetic person who would choose the stairs over the lift, and I can safely say my energy levels are down to -10; as a result, I hear “you look tired” about 15 times a day. So there’s another visible symptom of my invisible illness. Maybe it’s the pain that’s classed as invisible? Actually no. I wince in pain when I move and people can definitely see that. I went to London with my college the other day and a stranger on the tube asked me if I needed an acetaminophen. I thought I was hiding my pain pretty well that day but obviously not. If a random guy who can’t have been watching me for longer than 30 seconds notices my pain, why can everyone else ignore it? I think this might be why it’s called an invisible illness. Many people choose to ignore it out of awkwardness, and if you ignore something for long enough you can pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s like that thing people in primary school would do when they’d ignore someone over lunch and pretend they were invisible. I think this is what we’re doing. We’re just pretending it’s invisible for some unknown reason. I think it’s time to acknowledge that invisible illness isn’t always invisible.

Eliza lee

How Lady Gaga Has Helped Me Through Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain

When I was given a list of possible diagnoses one of the first things I did was get on Google and find out what all these strange words meant. I later discovered that doing so was a huge mistake, as when you Google things like fibromyalgia and anti-coagulant lupus you just get page after page of doom and gloom. Fortunately, my lupus screen came back negative, but fibromyalgia is still on my list of diagnoses and as a 17-year-old college student, this completely changed my view on life. My hopes and dreams were put on hold and I had no idea what my future held. I went from exercising religiously to lying in bed unable to move and I saw no chance of a future and no point in trying to make a life for myself. That was until I watched Lady Gaga’s documentary “Five Foot Two.” It made me realize that life with chronic pain may suck but it doesn’t have to hold you back. My mindset quickly shifted to “if Lady Gaga can tour the world and dance on stage with fibromyalgia, then I can get through college.” While this may not sound like a life-changing resolution, as a teen with chronic pain, it gave me hope and I knew my life didn’t have to be spent in bed. As a child I was mildly obsessed with Lady Gaga; however, that obsession faded as I grew – at least it did for a few years. I can safely say that Lady Gaga is back in my life and when I heard she was coming to the UK I knew I had to see her in person! I gathered my Christmas and birthday money and I forked out enough for two tickets. My seats were right by the stage – I couldn’t believe my luck! That was until the tour got rescheduled and yeah, I was gutted, but hey – I still have tickets for January! At least I did anyway. Yesterday I went on my Instagram and saw that the remainder of the tour had been canceled and I was devastated, I didn’t know what to think. My mind shifted from self-pity to annoyance and finally to how much pain Gaga must be in to have canceled it. I thought back to my worst flare-ups and remembered how I could barely move, and here people are expecting Gaga to sing, dance and put on a smile. I know it sounds silly, but Lady Gaga being unable to perform was a much-needed reality check. You see, I was forcing myself out of bed and into college when I just wanted to curl up into a ball and scream from pain constantly, reminding myself of how Lady Gaga was putting on a smile and going about her day. Lady Gaga canceling her tour made me realize it’s OK to take a break and at the end of the day we need to listen to our bodies because in the long run, pushing ourselves to the limit is only going to make us feel worse. I really hope Lady Gaga feels better soon and that she can return to the UK at some point in the future, but at the end of the day I’ll understand if she can’t and I really hope she gets the best care out there. I love you, Gaga – your music has saved my life and I will always be one of your little monsters. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here. Lead photo courtesy of Lady Gaga’s Facebook page

Eliza lee

Medication Is Not a Cure for Chronic Illness

For a lot of people, being sick is as simple as going to the doctor and being given some antibiotics, but for the thousands of us who aren’t going to get better, it’s a grueling process of going to your GP and being given a prescription with a list of medications that may or may not work. Many doctors may have given up on explaining what they’re giving you, and sometimes they don’t check whether or not you’re able to take this new medication. I was recently prescribed some new anti-nausea meds that could’ve reacted badly with my pain meds and if my pharmacist hadn’t realized this it could’ve had some major consequences. You see, my peers judge me for the medications I take, often telling me about an article they’ve read and insisting I should stop taking all medications and try something they read about online. While this seems like a miracle cure to them, it’s not always that simple. For starters, if I were to just stop taking my meds, who knows how my body may react. Can you guarantee that if I try this miracle cure my body will magically become pain-free? Will my blood stop clotting? Will I suddenly be able to absorb the vitamins I eat? You see, I hate living with all these tablets; I am very much aware of all the things that could go wrong, so I don’t need to be told that I’m killing myself. The thought of what all these medicines are doing to my body in the long run terrifies me, and taking a new medicine fills me with anxiety every time and more often than not, I can’t tell if my body is reacting badly to a new drug or if I’m just panicking over nothing. The few people who tell me I need to be taking medications seem to think that if I take my meds I’ll see the effects of it instantly. I don’t. I often have to wait months to find out if my new tablets are working and if they don’t then I’m back at square one. Then the tablets that do work only work to a certain degree; my painkillers are more like pain-dullers and my anti-nausea tablets only have a 50/50 chance of working. So it’s hit or miss and it’s slowly becoming some sick game of luck. People seem to be under the impression that if I take all my pills I’ll be the epitome of health. This is really frustrating as a person with chronic illness because my symptoms are so widespread and they clash with each other. For example, if my muscles are stiff and causing me pain, I could take a muscle relaxer; this, of course, doesn’t stop my pain because now that I’m relaxed, my joints are popping out and causing me a different kind of pain. Because of this I often have to weigh up the pros and cons of taking a medicine and then if I decide to take something, I need to choose which symptom is causing me the most grief and hope I won’t worsen another. All of my physical symptoms are constantly clashing with each other and it’s as if my body is slowly tearing itself apart. This not only takes a physical toll on my body but it has a huge impact on my mental health too. I don’t think many people would understand what’s going on with me and I can guarantee if I went to my doctor saying I was anxious or depressed they would blame all my physical symptoms on my anxiety. They would take away my pain meds and leave me bedridden. They would stick some tube down my throat and force Ensure drinks down my throat, telling me I’m not really nauseous but trying to avoid food. Who knows what would happen? I’m scared to find out…  You see, I need my meds to keep living and I don’t want to risk getting them taken away because of some doctor jumping to the conclusion that all my problems are “in my head.” My meds aren’t going to stop all of this from happening; they might dull my symptoms but they might make them worse. All I know is that as a person with chronic illness, they aren’t some miracle cure, and I may never get better. I’ve accepted this – but when will my peers? We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here. Thinkstock photo via fizkes.

Eliza lee

Advice for Students With Chronic Illness Going Into College

Starting college can be stressful at the best of times because it can mean a new city, new friends and new teachers. This alone would fill most people with dread, but I’m assuming if you’re reading this you are a fellow spoonie or you know someone who is. This means you have the added task of being sick and balancing meds and hospital appointments. College and chronic illness alone can be daunting, but put them together and you may be wondering how you’re going to cope… Well, I’m here to give yourself some advice I found useful when I started college. 1. Pace yourself. You don’t want to wear yourself out in the first week, so you need to set yourself some guidelines. For starters, don’t try and join every club you see – maybe just one or two. You should also know your own limits. If you get tired, take a break. It could save you from being bedridden for days. 2. Eat properly. This sounds pretty basic but you need to make sure you’re eating a full three meals a day, or at least do your best. You don’t want to become vitamin deficient or take meds on an empty stomach because it might make you feel worse. 3. Keep a bullet journal. This really helped me because I could keep track of all the things I needed to do as well as monitor my pain levels and flare-ups. I just find it super helpful. Even if you’re not a spoonie, you should definitely start one. 4. Forget the haters. I know this one is pretty cliche, but it’s actually super useful advice. You don’t need all the negativity in your life, especially if it’s coming from friends. If it is, I recommend ditching them and finding new ones. 5. Inform your tutors. This one could be a lifesaver. I miss a lot of class from having appointments and from being stuck in bed, and if your teacher knows this then they’re less likely to give you grief over missing class. If they do give you grief, ask for some support. Did you know you can get someone to take notes for you in class? Well, I didn’t, but I had a teacher tell me that you could get someone to take notes for you, even when you’re in class. 6. Don’t struggle in silence. If you need help, ask! You can’t expect someone to know you need help, especially if you have an invisible illness. If you need help getting between lessons or you need extra exam time then this could be arranged for you if you have a valid reason for it. If it will be beneficial for you then it’s worth asking. Even if they say no, it’s not the end of the world. That’s most of the advice I have. I’m pretty new to being a spoonie and I’ve only just finished my first year of college, a.k.a. sixth form (this means I’m only 17 – in Britain college is the equivalent of being a junior/senior in America). I really hope this helps because when I started college I had no idea how important these seemingly small tasks were. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here. Thinkstock photo via moodboard.

Eliza lee

Why You Shouldn't Compare Someone to Who They Were Before Illness

Imagine this: Somebody gives you a plant to look after and you try your best to care for it but still, it starts to die. Gradually turning an ugly shade of brown as leaves start to fall off and the stem starts to wilt. No matter how hard you try, you can’t save this plant, so you ask for help. Except, the person you ask for help only sees the healthy plant it was last week. Because of this their advice doesn’t work. How frustrating would this be? People keep telling you to water the plant but you already tried this so people suggest you take it outside for some fresh air. But what good is this? The plant is dying – it needs something more than water; maybe all it needs is some additional nutrients to get it back onto the road to recovery. But people never took you seriously when you said your plant was dying, so now the plant is browning and weak, barely alive and starving.   The plant’s owner comes back and now they can see the mess their plant has become. They don’t want this plant. Constantly comparing it to what is was and how big and beautiful it was. They don’t want this dying plant. They can’t see how much time you took trying to get their plant well again. They can’t see the small buds forming. All they can see is what they lost. They don’t want this plant anymore. Now imagine the plant is you. You couldn’t get the care you needed and now you’re weak, and you can’t do any of the things you could, but you’re still you. Positive, friendly and, most importantly, you’re still fighting. Then your friends and family visit and they don’t see anything good – just how frail and weak you have become. They don’t want to be around you anymore because you’ve changed, so they all leave, and now you’re sick and all alone. This sounds horrible, doesn’t it? But unfortunately this is the reality for many chronically ill patients around the world. It’s why so many of us try and hide our pain, live with it until it pushes us to the edge, leave it until it’s far too late and we’re stuck in a constant cycle of self-hatred, pity and doubt. Trapped in the un-escapable prisons our own bodies have become. My body is turning against me and I just want to be heard. I need my pain to be acknowledged before I can even come close to accepting my new reality. So please, when I say I can’t go out, don’t get annoyed at me because “you used to love coming out with us and now all you ever do is stay inside,” because I have enough guilt following me around without you adding to it. I hate that I’m not my old self, but living in the past isn’t helping anyone. This guilt you keep tying to inflict onto me – I have enough of it already. I feel like I’ve become a burden on my family who now have to plan trips around whether or not I’ll be capable of making it out the house, or adding onto their workload by ferrying me between appointments and college. Then there’s the guilt I feel from having to cancel plans on loved ones. I hate it just as much as you do. I even feel guilty about going to school, like I’m wasting my education and my teachers’ time. There’s nothing I can do to stop this. I miss the old me. I miss rock climbing and adventure. The closest I get to rock climbing is climbing the flight of stairs, but still, I can’t always make it. I miss all the foods I could eat without feeling nauseous, I miss the shoes I could wear and the freedom that comes with being well. I could do anything! But now, I can’t do any of it. I had the perfect future planned out: I was going to join the army or become a snowboarding instructor. Now I can’t do any of that. Now I’m lying in bed scared to move out of this position in case anything pops out of place. So please, instead of reminding me of what I used to do, why not remind me of the things I can do? I can still be me, I can still have small adventures and I should definitely be able to get support from my friends. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here. Thinkstock photo via greenaperture.

Eliza lee

Missing School Because of Chronic Illness

Ever since I was little I’ve always found myself in some sort of trouble – not serious trouble, but just enough for all of the teachers to know my name and keep an eye on me. I’m not going to say I was an angel and try to excuse everything I did, but I am going to try and clear some things up and put some reason into my actions. First of all, I rarely have perfect uniform and I can often be seen sporting baggy tops, loose dresses and jumpers. I don’t wear all this for fashion but to help me hide my braces and bloating from the meds. I usually wear leggings because they are easier to put on than the tight office pants I’m supposed to wear and they don’t put as mush strain on my knees. They also hide how bruised my legs are and the kinesiology tape covering my legs. While I do care about the dress code, I think being able to move around and be comfortable in my own skin will have a much more positive effect on my education than the office attire you keep pushing onto me.   Another thing people assume I do because I don’t care is not going to assembly. This isn’t a small act of defiance; it’s me not feeling comfortable in a room full of people. I may need to leave quickly if I feel sick, I can’t sit very long before my joints start to lock up and the heat in the assembly hall makes me feel faint. I have permission to not go to assembly but teachers often assume that I just don’t care about the school policies. Finally, I have a very low attendance, so low that if you added all the days and lessons I’ve missed together, you’d realize I’ve missed over a month and a half of school since Christmas. Most of my peers think lying in bed watching movies can’t be that bad. If I was given the opportunity to do that two years ago I would have jumped at the chance, but now I’d groan because I’ve learned the reality of taking a sick day, usually a sick week, and it’s something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. On the days I don’t go to school, my days aren’t filled with Netflix and video games but with pain, frustration and hanging onto banisters hoping my knees won’t give out on me as I attempt to make my way to the bathroom. I also have hospital appointments quite frequently as well as physiotherapy once a week, which also impacts my attendance. The worst part about all of this is that when I go back into school I’m greeted by an array of teachers asking why I wasn’t in and telling me I need to stay in school until 5:00 to catch up on what I’ve missed. I can’t really blame them either, because to the eye I’m a sprightly young girl with decent posture and a smile on her face. They can’t see the braces holding me upright and they can’t feel my pain as I stand there trying to keep a smile on my face. So it’s no wonder they all see me as a girl who simply can’t be bothered to show up. This really sucks because the more they say it the more I believe it. If I really put my mind to it, surely I could go in for my lessons, sit the full 90 minutes and concentrate. Right? Wrong? No matter how hard I push myself, odds are I’ll never be able to do that. I know that because I’ve tried. I did a full week of lessons. Every day I’d go into school for eight hours and I would work. After one day in school I was exhausted and every bone in my body felt like it was on fire. I thought it must be normal though and because of this I carried on. The more I pushed myself the worse I got. I was spending my breaks in the toilets dry heaving or crying. Sometimes both. I was shaking from head to toe, I couldn’t eat and I just couldn’t concentrate. At the end of the week I was in a much worse state, both mentally and physically, than I was at the start of the week. To top it all off, the quality of my work reduced and I think I lowered my attendance even more in the following weeks trying to recover from something so many people my age do with ease. I’m not going to say I regret doing this because it taught me something. It taught me I’m not being “pathetic” when I take the day off school and I proved to myself that I do care. Despite what my teachers tell me, I must have cared a lot to put myself through that. It’s been a year since I tried this and now I know what my body’s capabilities are. I’m getting closer to being able to do a full week of school. I still miss about two days of school a week and I know this is a lot to most people, but when I am home I do my work and in one of my subjects I’m doing fairly well. I’ll probably have to resit the year due to my poor attendance, but at least I’m still trying. I really hope this gave some sort of insight into the things I do. While this is my own experience with school, everybody has a different experience, so my post may not speak for everyone who has chronic fatigue, chronic pain or just chronic illness in general. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here. Thinkstock photo via Purestock.

Eliza lee

My Phone Isn't Stealing My Sleep – My Chronic Condition Is

Everyone who has missed a night of sleep has probably been told that their phone is to blame, and some of the time that is the case. But for some people, sleep just never comes. If you’re anything like me, getting anything less than eight hours of sleep will make you incredibly irritable. So please, when I snap, don’t take it personally. I’m probably in too much pain to socialize, and frankly, I’m too tired for your judgement. Before you jump to conclusions, let me explain. I’ve recently found myself getting less than four hours of sleep a night and every day I have people lecturing me on drinking too much coffee, or on spending the night texting. This is incredibly frustrating because odds are, I’m drinking coffee because I didn’t sleep and I need it to help me function at a basic layer, and on the occasion that I am online at 3 in the morning, it’s not because I’m just avoiding sleep. It’s because I’ve spent hours with my eyes shut and I’ve given up trying, or I feel like my joints are on fire and that ants are eating away at them. How could any one sleep through that? So please, trust me when I say I couldn’t sleep. I’d much rather be asleep than lying awake. When I say I didn’t sleep, many assume, “She’s 17. She was probably just talking to boys all night.” I wasn’t. It’s a Saturday night and I was in bed by 8. I should be out at the cinema, at or party or just being a kid. But pain stole that from me. Pain stole my sleep, my happiness and my life. Pain is even ruining my friendships. I got into an argument with my friend yesterday because according to him, I’m not trying to sleep. If I really wanted to sleep, I would’ve been able to. This hurts me and I just wanted to cry. I am trying, and for some one to tell me I caused this to myself – it was like a punch in the face. He told me if I didn’t drink so much coffee, I’d be able to sleep. But, I only drink two cups a day and never after 3 p.m. He then told me it was because I was on my phone. It eventually turned into him telling me that the reason I was in pain was because I hadn’t slept and that the pain was psychosomatic, caused by sleep deprivation. This doesn’t sound like such a bad argument, but I get this kind of thing everyday. I was never told that my chronic pain would cause all my friends to become medical experts with the right to cause me even more grief. Apparently me not taking their advice is belittling because they’re “just trying to help.” Their “help” gets to me more and more. Can people not understand that I don’t want this? I want a full day in school, I want to be able to hold a meal down, to go shopping in town. I want my freedom and I want the old me back. So please, when someone with a chronic illness says they couldn’t sleep, couldn’t come into school or couldn’t hang out – please just take their word for it. Don’t make them feel like a bad person for being ill because we didn’t choose this. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock Image By: KatarzynaBialasiewicz