It is the stars, The stars above us, govern our conditions.William Shakespeare
I promised myself before I started my blog, that I would be open and honest about everything that I go through. So today, I want to talk about the thing that I struggle with the most, feeling invisible. It’s hard for me to talk about, because honestly it’s the thing that I’m probably most embarrassed about. I struggle with accepting the fact that it’s okay to have these feelings, and to be angry. I have an invisible illness, actually, multiple invisible illnesses. You can’t tell that I’m sick when you look at me. It’s both a blessing and a curse, and I’ll explain why. But, first, I need to let you all know that it’s not okay to tell someone that they don’t look sick. We know that you don’t mean anything by it, but it’s hurtful. But, more than that, what exactly does a sick person look like? How is that label fair to put on someone? You wouldn’t tell someone who’s going through a divorce, that they don’t look like their marriage is breaking up, so don’t do it to us. Anyway, back to why I feel invisible sometimes. My body is very sick, it’s very broken, and it’s not a normal 21 year old’s body. Inside, my body is attacking itself, and it’s so painful. Sometimes, I wish that I could turn myself inside out and put my pain right out for everyone to see. Maybe then people would understand. It’s become second nature for me to put a smile on my face and push through my days. And, most of the time, that’s a good thing. I’m thankful that I’m able to work 4 jobs, and do things with my friends and family. But at what point is it unhealthy to push through it all of the time? At what point does “faking it till you make it” become too much? These are the questions that I ask myself every single day, and the things that I’m working through in therapy. Feeling invisible also makes me angry. I’m angry that the people on the outside can’t see what I go though. Nobody sees my joint pain, my mouth sores, my skin rashes, my depression, or my anxiety. Nobody sees the many doctor’s appointments, the blood tests, the emails back and forth with my rheumatologist. Nobody sees my suicidal thoughts, my shaking body in big crowds, or me sitting in the hallway in the middle of the night with panic attacks. And, that makes me angry. I know that it is not necessarily a rational thought, but it’s one that I can’t control. It’s a thought that I’m working so hard at breaking through hours and hours of therapy. But learning to live with chronic illnesses, and recovering from severe depression doesn’t happen over night. There’s no handbook with all of the right answers, as much as we all wish that there could be. I refer to myself as a “work in progress”, because I am not even close to being okay with everything that has happened to me in the past 3 years. I’m extremely thankful for my family, because they do see all of things that I go through, and I’m thankful that I live in a house where I know that I’m not invisible, and that my feelings are valid. But, again, it’s not a thought that I can turn on and off with the flip of a switch, no matter how validated I feel. A few days ago, somebody (who is NOT a good person) told my mom, “how would you feel if you had a sick child at home?” obviously not knowing anything about me or our situation, and it hurt the both of us. My mom does have a sick child, it’s me. She takes amazing care of me, and I’m so lucky to have her. But, comments like that hurt. You never ever know what someone is going through behind closed doors, I think we all have to be a little bit more empathetic and smart when talking to people we know little about. Every morning I wake up and try to be little bit better than I was the day before. I try to be open and honest and raw and real. Everyone who is chronically ill handles it differently, and it affects them differently. There’s no criteria that were trying to live up to, we’re all just doing the best that we can. We all want to feel seen, and for our feelings to be heard and validated. I can accept that I will probably always feel invisible when it comes to my illnesses, and what I go through physically and mentally on a day to day basis. But my voice will not be invisible. I will advocate and share my story in the hopes that it raises awareness. If you feel invisible, for whatever reason, you are not alone. Please know that I hear you and I see you. We’re all doing the very best that we can, and that’s okay.