The Honest-To-God Truth About Living With An Invisible Illness


How many times have you been told you are young, beautiful, and should be out having a great time with your friends? Perhaps been called boring or a grandma for staying at home? Maybe even gotten yelled at by your friends for having to bail at the last minute because you know your body just can’t handle it?

Yup, I am right there with you.

I might look young and energetic from the outside, but I can promise you from the inside it doesn’t always feel that way. Being in my mid-twenties doesn’t automatically mean I can function on little sleep, push my body to new boundaries, and constantly be running on empty. Society really needs to let go of that stereotype.

If that does work for you then great, but for me that is a recipe for disaster. You see when you have chronic health issues (endometriosis, migraines, adrenal fatigue) that drain your body, leave you in constant pain, and require lots of extra self-care; being young and free isn’t quite as simple.

So often I have friends and colleagues lecturing me about how I don’t go out enough, calling me a bad friend for bailing when I am in pain, or telling me to stop acting like an old lady and suck it up. I have a very important request to make of all of you with endless energy and great health.

Can you please stop health shaming those of us who don’t?

I can promise you that most of us wish we had more energy and didn’t have to cancel so much at the last minute. We don’t need you reminding us, our body does that enough all on it’s own. I also realize that it’s hard for you to understand and that you just want to spend time with us, but what we need the most is no extra guilt or anger towards our health issues.

We didn’t ask to have chronic health conditions and most of us wish it could be different, but what we want the most is just to make peace with our bodies. You reminding of us of what are aren’t able to do or how we have to do it differently doesn’t help with that process.

It is not always easy in the society we live in to prioritize taking care of yourself. We get pressure from our bosses to never miss work and put in long hours. We get pressure from magazines and tv ads to have it all. We get pressure from social media to keep up a certain image.

So much pressure and not in the right direction.

Taking care of my health is a top priority for me and I don’t need to feel guilty for that. Staying home to sleep instead of watching a basketball game does not make me a bad fan. Going home after work instead of getting drinks does not make me anti-social. And sleeping in on the weekend does not make me lazy.

Realize that your words and your actions impact us. Realize that when we are trying to take care of ourselves what we need is support and encouragement.

Realize that we do love you and we do miss you too, but we need to stick to our limits.

Next time your friend says they aren’t up for going out, offer to stay in with them. Next time your friend wants to go to a nicer restaurant to get a healthier meal, join them. Next time your co-worker calls out of work sick, welcome them back by letting them know that you’re glad they took care of themselves.

Health shaming doesn’t have to be a thing, but right now it is. Always remember that how someone looks on the outside or how old they are, does not tell the full story of how they are feeling on the inside.

Our bodies are mysterious things that work in mysterious ways. We don’t get to choose them, but we do get to choose how we treat them. We are requesting your help in treating them the best we can. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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