They say seeing is believing. So how do I show someone that I have an invisible illness? How do I explain it in a believable way? It’s crazy that something so very real, incredibly painful and hugely debilitating to me can be disbelieved by others simply because they can’t see it.
I believe it because I can feel it. Every day my body hurts. From the second I wake up to the moment I fall asleep. Pain is the new normal for me.
I see it too. In the smallest of tasks that other people take for granted. I’ll struggle to push a door open, I’ll see my hands shake whilst I try to put in my contact lenses, I’ll get frustrated when I drop things and I’m forever bumping into door frames because my spacial awareness is non existent.
I can hear it when I stop mid sentence because I can’t think of the word I’m looking for. Or when I move too quickly or in the wrong way and I let out a cry of pain or a frustrated muttering under my breath.
So for me, its not just seeing that’s believing. Its all my other senses too. Showing me that something is very wrong. I wish other people could be around to see and hear all those little things that happen every day to me. So they could be more believing in my illness and understanding of how it affects me.
In life though, its impossible for most people to be around whilst all those things are happening. They have their own lives to lead. They’ll see just a small moment in time, maybe on a day I’ve felt my symptoms are more bearable, and I’ve been able to meet a friend for coffee or a short drive to get out of the house. During those times they might notice one or two things that hint at something not being quite right but it’s just a small part of a bigger picture. The small things seem insignificant to them, or something that can easily be managed.
What they don’t see is the constant battle of mind and body thats taking place every single moment of every day. My body is hurting but my brain is telling me it’s OK, this is your normal amount of pain. You can cope with it, just don’t do anything to make it worse.
I don’t want to keep saying my back hurts, my legs hurt, I’m struggling to move, I feel sick, Im exhausted. If I did that it would be constant all day long. No-one would want to be around me. So instead I battle on, I stay silent through the pain and I don’t draw attention to the things I’m struggling with. I try to appear normal. That’s what I’ve become used to doing.
So I guess I’m not helping myself in that regard. I’m making it more difficult for others to notice the pain that I’m in. What I really want is just for people to believe me without having to see it for themselves. Its not all in my head, its not me making a mountain out of a molehill.
Invisible illness is real and its all consuming. Please try to understand.