For better or worse, it appears I’ve joined the ranks of those suffering from invisible diseases. Invisible does not imply non-existent as so many people imagine; rather, it states that it is a disease that does not manifest itself with outward visible signs others can identify.
“But you look fine,” is one of the worst things you can say to someone fighting the diseases no one can see, because, while that person may look fine, they’re often exhausted, in pain, and dealing with physiological effects hidden from your view.
Being told you don’t look sick makes trying to weather being sick that much harder. What’s worse is that far too many people take their view that no outward signs means no inward disease as an excuse to harangue and ridicule, making life even worse for the one who is sick. This has not happened to me, but I know far too many people for whom that is true.
For me, the greatest manifestation of my invisible illness is fatigue. I simply don’t have any stamina, which means that I have a limited reserve for things like getting out of bed and staying upright throughout the day, let alone exercising or doing the work that I need to. But, I don’t look sick, and that’s frustrating even for me.
I can assure you, however, that I would not be enduring regular visits to doctors complete with blood draws, taking piles of medications, and inflicting daily pricks and injections if I was not sick. Unfortunately, what’s wrong is inside me, and nobody’s quite sure what that is yet.
I’m not saying any of this to get sympathy for myself, but to help anyone who knows other people complaining of invisible illnesses see that they’re telling the truth. They are sick. They are in pain. They are exhausted. They are struggling.
Have compassion. They need it.