Looking at me it might be hard to believe I live with a chronic illness. My chronic illness isn’t immediately visible or apparent even after getting to know me, but it takes a toll on my daily life. There are times when my hands, feet, and face swell from inflammation and days when I’m too tired to get out of bed.
Living with Fibromyalgia and Inflammatory Arthritis means I have good days where I feel normal so to speak, I can exercise, and even get done everything on my to-do-list. The bad days of pain, fatigue, and swelling are invisible to many and known as invisible illness.
The invisible illness community is comprised of many, including myself. We live with a chronic illness that renders us disabled but from an onlooker’s perspective we seem fine. Please understand, invisible illness is not just a catchphrase, it can be the difference between supplemental aid, job security, and even receiving treatment for your illness. Personally, I’ve had to prove my illness to doctors, time and time again. I’ve been refused treatment for pain and fatigue, denied disability and even shamed for my symptoms.
You can imagine how frustrating it is to be denied care based on others perception of you, so let me put some presumptions to rest. When I seem sluggish it’s not because I’m lazy but because the fatigue has taken hold again. I live with moderate pain, but fatigue is what stifles my energy. Every day I fight to get the things done many people take for granted. These include getting ready, meeting friends, and holding down a full-time job. I would be in huge trouble if not for my supportive and loving family who are able to help me. I am extremely grateful for their constant understanding and care.
All in all, I am thankful that my illness is somewhat manageable even if at times it costs me a “normal” healthy life. I realize that I may never be able to hold down a 9 to 5 career as it is too taxing on my body. I can have a fun filled night, but I’ll pay for it with a week or two of bed rest. Making friends and dating can also prove difficult if that person doesn’t understand my illness. Sometimes I must cancel plans when my body won’t cooperate, and I need notice in advance to prepare myself for a day or night out.
So far, I’ve been able to work around these problems with varying degrees of success. Although I live life at a slower pace than many people my age, I have a full life with amazing friends, a loving family, and a resolve to strive for success at my own speed. After years of practice I’ve learned to bend so that I don’t break.