Living with an Invisible Illness

IMG_154921023148616

Living with an invisible illness is tough. Many of us have the understanding that if you feel sick you must also look sick. But, that is not the case for someone who lucky enough to have one of the various invisible diseases, like myself and Multiple Sclerosis. Things are not always as they seem.

Rottenecards_3064219_y8wpj3z2p7

People have a set expectation. If you are sick, you should look sick. But, let me say this to you: never judge a book by its cover for things are not always as they seem. People find it extremely difficult to believe and understand what they cannot see. Many of them think things only exist when they can see it first-hand. How can one show you what cannot be seen? In my experience, this is the hardest thing for others to understand. All of this being said; there are of course people out there who take my word for it. Who believe that I am suffering from X, Y or Z. Though they may not understand it completely, they try.

e137cf65196b9466b5ea1387c91f8bef

When we were younger the majority of us had an invisible friend. How did you feel when someone told you that they were not real? That was heart breaking; people would often try to convince you that there was nothing there. If they could not witness it with their own eyes then that meant it did not exist. They made you feel like a liar, even though you were fully convinced that your invisible best friend was real, just as real as the grass is green and the sky is blue. Well, that’s kind of how it feels for me, someone with an invisible illness. Living with an invisible illness is very difficult. You have to explain the same thing to different people all of the time.

double-high-5-with-my-invisible-friend_o_1187849

Let’s create a scenario for simplicity’s sake. If you came home with a black eye and a slit lip people can see it. It’s a pretty visible injury. They understand this situation because it looks sore, and because they can see and relate to that kind of situation. They believe you because they have witnessed it for themselves.

27939042

People relate to this scenario because they can see your injuries. They understand (to a degree) what you are going through because your symptoms are on the outside, visible for the world to see. Their eyes are telling them that what has happened to you is real. You go to college or work and your classmates/colleagues feel sympathetic towards your bruised eye, they notice your slit lip in an instant.

invisible-illness

I’m sure you understand by now what I’m trying to say. The main issue I have with MS and the fact that it’s an invisible illness is that people don’t believe you, or some may think that you’re lying to get out of doing something or going somewhere. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I wouldn’t beat around the bush, if I have no interest in something I will make it clear to you!

1328670537988_6043938

Another problem is looking “well” when you feel like the definition of misery. I guess in a way it’s a good thing to look “healthy” even when you feel like you’re dying, but, on the other hand it’s very hard for people to believe that you are unwell because they can only see you as looking healthy. Even though I could be numb all down my right side, people would almost “brush it off” because they can’t see it with their own eyes they just have to take my word for it.

chronic comic 2

IMG_171618322881083

When people ask me; “how are you?” I automatically say that “I’m fine” or “I’m grand” because that is a hell of a lot easier than explaining how I really feel. Maybe if people asked “how do you honestly feel?” they know that I’d give them a long answer. “I feel like pure shit. I’m sleepy, I have no energy, I can’t concentrate, my left leg is numb, my right leg is burning, I’m having muscle spasms in my left arm and my right arm has non-stop pins and needles. On top of that I haven’t had a goodnight’s sleep in weeks, my whole body is shaking and I still have to try and go to college tomorrow.” This is just an exaggeration, but you get my drift! All in all, the shorter answer is easier and better for everyone, isn’t it?

meme 6

It’s tough when you have to take the day off of work because you can’t feel your right hand. It’s tough taking the day off of college because you’re so exhausted that you can’t stay awake or concentrate. It’s tough when you have to reject or cancel plans because you feel so sick and crappy. It’s tough when you worry about what others are thinking. At the end of the day, you have to live with it. You have to get on with life and not worry about what others think. That part is the toughest of all; convincing yourself that others who judge you do not matter. Their perception of you means absolutely nothing, and yet, you believe that because you feel sick on the inside you must look sick on the outside. Or at least, that’s how others make you feel.

blogger-image-841079700

image

Living with an invisible illness is hard. Coping with an invisible illness is hard. I have to work harder than my illness. My attitude towards it can make all the difference. It’s important for me not to let the opinions of others get to me. When the going gets tough, the tough get going!
c4195ce4ed58979b8fb45d545ac6f8bd

tumblr_ma3rnp5kMo1rg6ilyo1_400

Advertisements

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. annette
    Feb 22, 2014 @ 16:56:32

    You go girl …Brilliant update…Ill keep making the Scones and you keep positive …love ya

    Reply

  2. Rachel
    Feb 22, 2014 @ 17:57:45

    well done kars you are an inspiration

    Reply

  3. Hilda Leahy
    Feb 22, 2014 @ 18:44:17

    Hi Karol it is hard when the MS symptoms are invisible and harder still when they are visible!!! Anyone who doesn’t get it when you can’t do something are not real friends we don’t need sympathy from my experience it makes things worse all that’s needed is understanding but it is a rare thing in those who don’t know what MS is or can’t be bothered to find out. Sometimes I find its invisibility a bonus coz it spurs me on to be tough and do the things I want to do without anyone saying you can’t coz your sick. MS is just another way of life it’s hard but with a strong mind positive thinking you can drive on and live your dreams fair play to you for highlighting the issues relating to MS stay strong 😊

    Reply

  4. Marie
    Feb 23, 2014 @ 18:22:13

    Well done Karolyn keep writing…awaiting my signed copy:)

    Reply

  5. Laurie F. Harrison
    Feb 24, 2014 @ 05:23:29

    Enjoyed this! I’ve dealt with Fibromyalgia for over years and now my doctors have me as suspected MS. Still running test. But I can so relate to your post. I have found the desire for people to understand or believe me is one of the hardest challenges to me. I’m finally learning how to accept it more and just be me. I can’t get better if I’m stressing about everybody else. But it’s still hard some days. Good luck to you and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: