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Thursday, September 25, 2014

**RANT** Invisible Illnesses

Lord forgive me, but there are times I wish that I had a more visible illness.

You know that look you give someone who whips out their "Handicapped" placard, pulls into a reserved parking spot, then hops out of their car with the agility of Mick Jagger at 20? Sure, you know. THAT look. Well, I used to give people that look. Used to. Not anymore.

Thankfully, I don't need to park in a reserved spot so I never get "the Look". What I get is ignored. Ignored might be something that some disabled people long for, but not when it's worse than a smack in the face. Or when it makes being sick worse than "just" being sick.

Because I don't have an illness anyone can see, I don't get to park in any of the reserved spaces at the store or in life. Nope. Those special "life spaces" are reserved too, you see. Since I look like I can trot through life like a young Mick Jagger, there are lots of things I get a dirty attitude for:
  • Fatigued? Well, that's just too bad. I look too healthy (and might I say "gorgeous", or maybe not) to be fatigued. Fatigued from what? I look perfectly healthy. I should be able to wind up every morning and put the Energizer Bunny to shame!
  • A little down and blue? Well, none of that pity-pot business for me, my friend. At least I don't have ~insert disease #1 her~ or ~insert another disease~, right? My life is just perfect. I can get any job I used to, or go back to school to learn another job. Oh wait... I'd need to have better short-term memory for that. And then there's the whole fatigue thing. You know the problem I shouldn't have. We won't even talk about the stigma of being sick while looking well and fine. We really won't discuss any of the rest of stuff that can beat you down like Tyson in the ring. All those things like housing and food. Affordable housing and food. 
  • Not counting my blessings. Because, you know, I don't have one of those other diseases. And, besides, the one I do have doesn't seem all that bad. And, not that I care what idiots think, but I do count my blessings. I wish I could add more people to the list of blessings to count. (Okay now, that was just plain snarky. Sorry.)
  • Discouraged ever now and then? Well, that's just not allowed. Even though I struggle to piece back together some kind of a life. Even though I can't write as well as I used to (the one thing I was good at), and even though I wonder if I'm ever going to feel "normal" again. None of that matters. Especially when other people make it all look so easy.
I could go on. And on. I won't because then I'd get accused of being bitchy. I'm going to have to ask my docs if "bitchy" is a symptom of this disease or a symptom of most invisible diseases. A symptom brought on by, maybe, those other things I mentioned right up there. I'm pretty sure if I ask the wrong person, I'll get the "parking space" look.

So, yes, while I count my blessings and ward off my own bitchiness, I do sometimes want to wear a shirt like this one:

Cos that's what people think anyway
(get this shirt here)

And, by the way, you can hold the advise about how to handle illness. I don't want to handle it, want to beat the crap out of it. And, anyway, no one else - not even someone with the same disease - can tell anyone else how to handle their illness. I think that any disease/disability - no matter how "strong" someone is or how well they seem to handle it - is a personalized kind of struggle. My struggle has my name on it, not anyone else's. And, okay: that doesn't really explain the "bitchy" part. (I'm seriously going to have to ask a doc about that!)

Being sick made me more "natural"???
(get this shirt here)
 For those of you who don't know, I have another problem:

Part of it is this tho
It's true. If I'm not smiling, I look like I'm off to start trouble. That's why I smile so much (and sometimes look like I either have a great secret or better meds). Mostly. Part of it is (sometimes) just this:

I do have a flaw (yes, just one) of my own: I have a problem hearing other people complain about their little aches and pains when some of us are dealing with bigger stuff. See how I fell right into that whole "your problem vs my problem" thing? That's what happens when I turn my head and you see my other face.

So, yeah. This is a shout out to you all who are healthy and well. Don't make those of us with an invisible illness have to wear our bitchy face just to repel your "parking lot" attitude.


P.S.: Again, I'm thinking of Perry. I used to have him to vent all of this to. I guess I'll be using the blog to sometimes "talk" to him.


  1. As a person with bipolar another invisible illness i understand your plight. I used to try and prove my illness to the uneducated by showing my symptoms when they arise. The crying, the depression, the manic behavior but it is pointless I just live now. I I've in pain with fibromyalgia but I have no handicapped plate. I am tired as hell from my medicines. The worst part is proving to the Va and Ss why I can't have a job. Well I can't have a job because I miss work too much and my medicines make me tired, my migraines sneak up on me at any given time and I have to lay in a dark room, my mood swings make it so I cry about everything or am overly emotional. I have memory issues that complicate things that when I am manic I don't remember what happened or what I talked about, I hate leaving my home unless it is on my own terms. My question to VA and Ss is will you give me a job???? If you will hire me then I guess some place else my want to hire me as overly complicated as I am. Why make me chase and prove benefits for an illness or disease that is obvious to me and the person I live with?

  2. I know that you understand this all very well, +Bonnie Conway. I wish that more people would see where we're coming from. I met a young woman the other day who has serious issues with her health. She mentioned her frustration at the way people criticize her every habit, as if she should just suddenly be able to give up every food, drink or other habit she has. She said that instead of feeling encouraged, that just stresses her out even more. (You and I really know what that's like - with eating certain things or smoking or just not being "perfect").
    I love what you said about whether or not the agencies would be willing to hire you. Amen to that one! The basic thing is, until someone is in this situation, they have no idea what it's like.