“BUT YOU DON’T LOOK SICK…”

“Thank you. That’s my superpower.”

If there’s something that people living with invinsible illnesses have in common, it’s when you tell someone that you are in pain and they exclaim, “but you don’t look sick!”

I have no doubt that you thought about it before you said that. Or maybe I gave you one too many reasons to believe I am okay. I probably smiled so hard. But that smile was just a mask I like wearing to avoid to explain things I also don’t understand to people who will never understand.

In other words, I’m just going to take it as a compliment because I look fine to you. Because I am a good actress for playing the fine role so well.

I have pain 24/7/365. There is not a single time when I’m not feeling some kind of way. And Yes, Some days are worse, other days it gets better. Every day I fight my body so I can get out of bed and Live Survive like the rest of you. But I am never pain-free. You don’t notice it because I’m strong and I love to fake-smile _as Kim says. I also avoid company on my bad pain days_I literally coil up in my bed and call it a day as soon as the day starts. So you definitely have no idea what pain looks like when it’s written on my face and I’m ready to give up.

I’m not sad that you think I don’t look sick. Heck, even my family sometimes can’t believe that I am feeling as bad as I tell them. So you can think what you want.

The first Doctor I consulted ruled out every possible illness by saying I looked fine and that I was too young to have that much pain. A week later, when my blood work results were out and a few scans later, he admitted that looks really can be deceiving. I was angry that he had misjudged me by my bubbly personality and the smile I wore plus the extra kilos I had gained from the hormone surge. He later moved out of town _Thank goodness and I had to switch to another doctor who did not think I didn’t look sick. So while I may not fit into your definition of ‘looking sick,’ I know I’m sick. Just because you can’t see my pain or my scars doesn’t mean it’s not there. Please be kind.

Also, if someone could just overlook my fake smile, my cheerful personality for a minute and get educated about invisible illnesses _not having knowledge and awareness is the biggest detriment to someone struggling silently with an illness even their doctor does not fully understand Yet. That would go a long way in making sure you’re not rude to me next time I am minding my business and acting all fine.

Being sick doesn’t mean I have to look and act a certain way. It’s easier to wear a smile, laugh loudly _the louder my laugh, the more I’m in pain, and hide how I feel than to be told I don’t look good. How is “sick” supposed to look anyway?

In all fairness, I don’t blame you for thinking I don’t look sick, I blame it on the lack of enough awareness for invisible illnesses. The more awareness there is for illnesses like multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, PCOS etc., the less judgment there will be for us living with these invisible illnesses.

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Love

MK

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