Why I Fight Everyday To Keep My Illness Invisible

September 27, 2015

Each and every morning I get up and choose to fight.
I choose to put one foot in front of the other, even though I would rather be in bed.
I choose to look my best, despite feeling sick to the stomach and existing with constant bags under my eyes.

I choose to interact with those around me, even when I can’t keep up with the conversation.

I choose to smile and say I am fine, even though that is far from the truth.

I choose to keep my illness invisible.

Why is this? Why do I fight so hard each and every day to keep moving forward? To keep putting one foot in front of the other?

I choose to keep my illness invisible…because when it does become visible we have a problem!

Very few people have seen the full effects of this illness (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) on my life. I could probably count them on one hand the people who have seen the depths of this illness. Even my housemates and my family have not seen it.
See, this illness is invisible. All the symptoms aren't visible to the naked eye. And so that means I look like anyone else around me. You could walk past me in the street, and wouldn't think twice. We could have a perfectly enjoyable conversation, and you still wouldn't notice. I could turn up to work, to church, to a party, and still it would not be obvious at all. Yes, I may have heavy under eye foundation on, yes, I might spend more time sitting down than standing, and yes, I might occasionally miss a part of a conversation, or forget the word that I was trying to express, but you wouldn't think much of it.

It is when you delve below the surface and look at what is going on that you truly see this disease…and it is not a pretty sight!

The pain that is sweeping through my body that four different types of painkillers are not making a dent on. Muscular and joint pain, throbbing, aching, burning. The sharp stinging pain in the soles if my feet from standing too long, the constant headache, the ache in my back from the hard plastic chair.

The fatigue that leaves me nauseous and out of breath, when the simple task of breathing has become a laboured affair.

The cognitive brain fog which has me mixing words, being unable to calculate simple arithmetic, confused, and directionally challenged. Constantly trying to keep pace with the world around me, keep up with the conversation, and remember where I was heading and what I was doing.

The emotions that can leave me crying uncontrollably, at anything, because I am that tired that I am unable to function.

The heightened sensitivity to light, sound and smell that sends pain signals through my body

The upset stomach that spasms, unable to decide if it is happy with food today or not. The gut wrenching pain that has me doubled over in the bathroom.

The dizziness every time I stand or bend over. The need to stop and lean against the wall on the trip from my bed to the bathroom in the middle of each night.

A body collapsing in on itself.

All of this happening inside of me.

Naked to the human eye.

Sometime I wonder what I would look like if all these symptoms externalised themselves. If what I felt was what those around me would see.

That is an image that scares even me...

So instead I choose to fight to keep my illness hidden. To cover up the bags under my eyes, to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

To keep fighting with a smile on my face.

Please remember that my choice to fight to keep my illness invisible, does not mean it does not exist. It is real.

We all have a choice.

My choice is to keep fighting.

I hope your choice is believing and truly seeing the invisible.

Invisible Illness Week

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A photo posted by Kate Eastman (@makeitbakeitfakeit) on