To those of you who use the line, “well you look fine” or “you have been doing a lot so you must be feeling better”… here is the truth… I have a chronic illness and the funny thing about that is it never goes away! It is always drawing some type of attention to itself at least several times a day.
Even though on the outside I “look fine”, it does not mean I am fine on the inside. If you look past the smile that is usually always plastered on my face and really look at my eyes, you will see that I am not ok. Am I hunched over or trying to fold my body so I am bracing myself? If so, my pain is off the charts. Is my speech slurred and I seem pretty foggy? Yes? Then my blood is not moving up to my brain quick enough and my brain is depleted of oxygen. Am I grabbing my stomach? If so, my stomach is angry that it has to figure out how to digest the food that is sitting in it.
All these symptoms and many more are ones that cannot be seen in a photograph. Just because I did something fun or pleasurable does not mean I am well and that I did not pay for that activity later. That photo that was posted on social media only captured one second of that day and does not tell the entire story. Looks can easily fool you when the person is suffering from invisible illnesses.
When I hear the line, “you have been doing a lot so you must be feeling better”, a strong wave of anger floods my body and I just want to scream back “but you have no idea!!”. I know the person means well by their comment, but it is still very hurtful. It reminds me how alone I really am in this constant battle against my own body and reinforces how others really don’t understand the complexity of my situation and the depth of what I endure each day.
Even though I am battling a vicious fight against my own body, I still love to travel and seek adventure. I may appear to take many adventures for someone with a chronic illness, but that does not mean I am well or healed. I have seen more dark days than I can count. Days where getting off of the sofa is not an option and neither is being independent like changing my own clothes. I have had more days of excruciating pain than I desire, but this is my life. I have learned to accept it, to change many of my habits in order to manage my symptoms, and I choose to live life to the fullest despite the heavy weight of having several chronic illnesses.
I choose to live. I choose to travel. I choose to love. I choose to accept my life as it is and continue on living.
Rarely do I post photos showing the reality of my everyday life because I choose to not focus on my struggles. Instead I choose to share my achievements and joy in hopes to inspire others to live their life to the fullest. So I ask you to please keep in mind that there is always more to the story behind that bright smile showing in a photo.