Invisible illness: A blessing or a curse?

I realise I haven’t done a blog post in a while. The reason being is that I’ve been wanting to focus on moving on in my life. I’ve been looking for work and just focusing on doing things that a 21 year old would do.

Anyway, I thought I’d make this post about something I’ve been thinking about recently. My ‘invisible’ illness. It’s invisible because no one can see it. I know I have this illness. I know how it effects me. My friends and family know about it too. But they only know from me talking about it. To strangers or just people I don’t really know well, I haven’t got an illness. I’m going to talk about the pros and cons of having an invisible illness.

(Obviously, everyone’s situation is different and I’d just like to say these are my own opinions. It doesn’t mean they’re right and it doesn’t mean they’re wrong either.)

Okay, so pros of an invisible illness (I mean, having an illness isn’t necessarily positive, I’m talking about the invisible aspect of it):

  • People treat you the same as they would anyone else. (If they don’t know about it)
  • What I mean by this is that, because people don’t know that you have a chronic illness/disability they don’t ‘tip-toe’ around you. They don’t talk to you in a way that shows they feel sorry for you. And, in a way, aren’t careful with what they say around you thinking you’ll be offended. Don’t get me wrong, there are people out there who treat you the same despite knowing about your illness. But I’ve seen first-hand how people can change after discovering you’ve actually got a chronic condition.
  • Again, this is my opinion, but I don’t like when people find out about me and assume that they have to be careful of what they say to me. I may be sensitive at times, and it may be hard to tell, but honestly I’m not easily offended. I’ve learnt in life to laugh, a lot, at things that adversity throws at me. If I make a joke about my stomach or something, I want people to laugh along with me. There’s been many times when I’ve made a joke about my stomach and people don’t laugh. They do a little grin and a noise of some sort, but I can tell they feel a bit uncomfortable. They feel like they can’t laugh. Do they think I’m testing them or something? Because I’m not. I encourage my friends and family to laugh along with me. I don’t like when people feel uncomfortable around me. I’m me. Yes I’ve had a few battles. But who hasn’t? I’ve got a few scars, so what? I’m still human. I’m still a 21 year old woman.
    • You can pretend you don’t have an illness.

    This may sound daft but let me explain. There are days where I think that my illness has taken over. Mentally as much as physically. I feel that I’m not Katie, I’m someone who has a chronic illness. That’s not right. I shouldn’t have a label. I don’t like thinking that I’m a person with a disability. I am, but I’m capable of a hell of a lot. There are days where I can almost forget that I’ve got what I’ve got. Focus on other things, like what I’ve been doing recently. Focus on my personality, me as a person. Doing activities that I enjoy doing. It helps that I can hide my illness. My stomach is easily hidden. My symptoms can be easily controlled most days. Despite me occasionally thinking “why me!”, I’m actually quite fortunate given my circumstances. To many people, I’m just a small 5’2 woman with a shy yet distinctive personality. I like that.

    Also, I’m not saying you should pretend you don’t have an illness- if you have one – I’m just saying, for me, knowing that I can kind of push the whole aspect of my illness to the side and not let it get in the way of living is very beneficial.

    Okay, Cons! If I’m honest, I can only think of one at this current stage. So here we go, cons of having an invisible illness:

    • No one understands

    The biggie. Now I know I said how I like when people treat me as if I haven’t got a disability/illness whatever. I do. But there are days where I feel like crap. One thing that can annoy me/upset me is when I am feeling really sick, tired, I’m in a lot pain and I’m talking to someone. I’m trying to not focus on the symptoms but it’s hard, and that person says “you’re looking well”. Now, you’re probably thinking – but that’s a compliment Katie? They’re only being nice. True. They probably think they’re being nice. And they are, I respond by saying thank you and giving a smile. In no way am I blaming them. This is something I can’t control.

    But what I’m saying is, because I can’t physically show that I’m not well, it’s hard to let people know I’m not feeling well. If that makes sense? There are days where I find it hard to talk because of the amount of pain I’m in. People think I’m okay because ‘I look well’. I don’t want to seem like someone who continuously complains about their problems; the amount of pain I’m in, how sick I’m feeling, I just don’t want to be that person. So I tend to keep quiet about it. But sometimes it gets too much and in frustration I will just burst into tears and just let it all out. I don’t want people to think that I’m pretending I’m feeling that way just because I don’t mention it all the time. I feel like if I was that person who constantly said how I was feeling physically everyday, people would see me as someone looking for attention. But if I don’t say anything apart from the days where I am really really sick (which is actually quite rare now) – would people actually believe me? It’s hard.

    Can I also just say, In no way am I wanting it to look like I’m feeling sorry for myself here. I’m not. I swear. I’m not that sort of person. I’m just saying things as they are. In my perspective.

    I guess here, the pros outweigh the cons. Which, for me, shows that having an invisible illness isn’t so bad.


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