Often, the hardest part of having an invisible illness is not the chronic pain or the constant discomfort or any of the other symptoms – it’s the fact that other people cannot really see or understand what you’re going through. Although the disability causes endless problems and challenges for the person experiencing it, the reality is that – unless they are specifically told – other people cannot easily grasp it or remember to adapt to it. So whether you’re suffering from depression or anxiety or Fibromyalgia or an IBD like Crohn’s Disease or any of the other number of invisible illnesses out there, here are 10 things others may not realize you are doing because of your illness.
1. Functioning in the midst of little sleep, lots of pain, and/or extreme fatigue.
Not because you’re good at functioning in this state, or because it’s not a big deal, or because the discomfort isn’t really that bad. But because you literally have no. other. choice. It’s either ‘let this illness take over your entire life and swallow you whole’ or ‘keep the illness enough at bay that you live as normal of a life as you possibly can.’
2. Working your ass off.
You have enough situations in your life already where you have little to no control over what is happening to you and/or your body, so you often find yourself working overtime, going the extra mile, and pushing yourself to the peak of your limit – just because it feels good to actually do something and take the reins when you can.
3. Having a hard time trusting others.
It’s not necessarily that you have a hard time trusting others because they’ve let you down. Often, it’s the contrary – you have tons of people in your life who do nothing but support you. However, learning how to lean on others is still quite a challenge for you; you’re used to having to fight harder than everyone else, to take care of yourself no matter how exhausted you are, to make yourself get out of bed even when you really don’t want to or you feel like you can’t. Because you’ve had no choice but to be incredibly independent in everything that you do, it’s actually quite difficult for you to occasionally let someone else take care of you for a change.
4. Feeling awful, even when you ‘look fine.’
That’s one of the hardest parts about your invisible illness: having to explain to people why you have to go home from work, or skip the presentation, or miss your friend’s birthday party – and hoping they’ll understand and believe that you’re telling the truth, even though you might look healthy as ever on the outside.
5. Struggling to feel calm when you’re outside of your normal routine.
You’ve learned how to cope with your illness and live a mostly regular life, as long as you stick to a certain way of doing things. Even when you’re feeling terrible, you can still get out of bed and go to work and be a person, as long as you make room for the things that help – doctor visits, go-to healthy meals, naps, relaxation techniques, extra sleep, whatever it is that helps you combat your particular struggle. So it’s incredibly hard for you to adjust when that routine is disrupted in any way whatsoever, whether it’s a vacation or a visit from a friend or a new job. You’re not afraid of change, but you are afraid of it negatively affecting the routines you’ve worked so hard to perfect.
6. Feeling anxious about ‘small’ things.
Car rides, dinner parties, enclosed spaces, a short walk, a guest in your home. The possibilities of what you will worry about are endless.
7. Doing the last thing people would ever expect you to do.
For the people in your life that do know you have an illness, they’re often surprised when you decide to run a marathon or go on a backpacking trip or sign up for a membership at a kickboxing studio. But in a way, your illness has been almost (alllllmost) a blessing in the sense that it’s caused you to be much more adventurous and to try many more things, simply because you’re so determined to not let it affect the quality of your life or to turn you into a passive person.
8. Trying to constantly reassure others that You. Are. Fine.
Because surprisingly, pity is one of the things you hate most about your invisible illness. You don’t like people feeling bad for you, you don’t want people treating you differently, and you really can’t stand when people walk on eggshells around you. Having an invisible illness often makes you feel different and isolated enough as it is, so you do everything in your power to convince everyone that you’re fine, just so that they’ll treat you like a normal person.
9. Stressing over stuff that most people never even think about.
There are a lot of things that most people don’t even think about that end up causing you extreme worry, depending on how it affects your illness and your coping mechanisms. When you’re asking multiple questions about an impending situation, it can be uncomfortable or difficult when other people are looking at you like you’re crazy or high maintenance.
10. Being ten times more passionate about your dreams than anyone else.
Because even if you can’t cure this disease, you can certainly make sure you still have an incredible and fulfilling life in spite of it. And if that’s as close to a ‘cure’ as you can get, then so be it.