“But you don’t look sick,” is a phrase many people living with an invisible illness have heard one too many times. It may be expressed with no malice – or even intended as a compliment – but saying such a statement can undermine the seriousness of an individuals invisible illness. It’s one of the many challenges people living with such illnesses face when it comes to communicating with friends, family and even doctors, who may struggle to understand a condition that they cannot physically see the effects of. You have to constantly advocate and explain yourself because people generally don’t understand something that they can’t see, or that they’ve never heard of before.
But what is “sick” supposed to look like? “Sick” looks like me.
I know it may be hard to believe because I may look “well” on the outside, but the reality is my body is falling apart on the inside.
Living with a incurable chronic illness means you will have good days, bad days and in between days. The baseline of wellness for us is constantly fluctuating and unpredictable: one second you’ll see me doing a 5km dog walk, the next you may see me in a wheelchair or hospital bed.
The truth is, I will not allow society to pigeon-hole me into a specific label, image or stereotype of what they think being “sick” should look like. I’m not responsible for other people’s thoughts, words, opinions and judgements – the best I can do is advocate for myself and the thousands of others with an invisible illness to tear society’s stereotype down and instead, educate.
You need to understand that life isn’t what you’re given; it’s what you create, what you overcome, and what you achieve that makes you beautiful.
So what should I look like then?
Just like this 👆🏼A young woman on a mission…a mission to live and embrace each “well” moment💫🦓🦋 • Laura Lee •