I sometimes feel like I am fading away. Becoming more and more translucent every day.
It’s incredibly isolating.
Growing up, whenever I was asked, “What super power would you like to have?” I would always say invisibility. I was so uncomfortable in my own skin that the idea of moving through life unseen felt like a gift from the gods.
Holy crap, was I wrong.
Every day I am living with (sometimes thriving with, sometimes controlled by) invisible chronic illnesses. On the outside I look “normal” but on the inside I am a disaster. And it’s freaking exhausting. Exhausting to have to explain to people that I am, in fact, sick even if it doesn’t look like I am. That my illnesses are real. That I’m not just lazy or anti-social or apathetic. But those are actually symptoms.
I forever feel like I am playing the sick card simply because I want so desperately for someone to truly see me and validate my experience. Or I’m faking it because I don’t want to be the sick girl. In either case, I’m playing a role and the authentic me is invisible.
When you’ve been told for years that nothing is physically wrong with you, it’s hard to unlearn that mentality even when you have test results that disprove that alternative fact. And if nothing is physically wrong with you, than something is mentally wrong with you. And that invites shame, guilt and heaviness.
I have built my life on faking it until I make it. Forced smiles. Pushing through. Hiding how I am actually feeling – physically and emotionally. And with each fake smile and staged laugh, I become more and more invisible. When asked, “How are you?” I say “Great – thank you!” when I actually mean “I feel like my body is giving out today. Brushing my teeth exhausted me and I needed to rest. I’m in so much pain that it feels like my head is going to explode.”
Sometimes I wish so deeply that my chronic illness looked like something. So that people could simply look and me and know my reality. So that I didn’t have to fake it or explain it.
Because it’s complicated, confusing and ever-changing. One day I’ll feel okay. One day I’ll feel good. One day I won’t be able to get out of bed. There is no pattern. And if I can’t grasp it, how can someone else who doesn’t experience it? As soon as someone finally starts to appreciate what I’m going through, my experience changes and now they don’t know what to believe or understand. “But, I thought you were sick. How do you have the energy to do x today when you couldn’t do x with me last week?”
I have been sitting down at my computer for days trying to write a post for you about something inspiring. Something helpful. And zero words came out. Zero. I’ve sat at this computer for hours and wrote nothing. I think I hit the wall with faking it. This morning I woke up feeling exhausted, hungover even though all I drank yesterday was water and emotionally heavy. But, Saturday morning is my blogging time so I opened the computer and started a post called “3 ways to feel happier today” and this is what came out.
So I guess my 3 ways to feel happier today are:
Speak your truth.
Speak your truth.
Speak your truth.
And the only way for me to feel less invisible is to invite you to see me. And the me today is feeling alone and exhausted but also willing to show herself. To help others feel less invisible and to help myself feel less invisible.
So, here I am! Thank you for seeing me + I see you too.