Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Invisible Illness

     Fibromyalgia is an invisible illness.  I look normal on the outside so most people don't even know I have it.  This is both a blessing and a challenge.  It is a blessing because I can be me and not have everyone focusing on my illness.  It's also a blessing because I am vain enough to want to look "okay" when people see me.
     It is a challenge because I look normal so people expect me to be able to do everything a healthy person can do.  They don't understand that taking on a few extra things at work will make me spend the weekend in bed recuperating or that going to work today was all I could physically manage and I can't go out after work for the "fun" stuff.  The only thing they see is that sometimes I look "tired."
     It is also a challenge for me because I am a perfectionist, an over-achiever, and a people-pleaser.  I do not want people to think that I use my illness to get out of doing work, so I work extra hard to make sure no one will feel that way, even if that makes me have a flare up.
     Sometimes people react funny when they find out I have Fibromyalgia.  Some people think it is a fake illness and I am just trying to get attention - one doctor even put that in my medical file for me.  That made me feel awesome!  Others think it is a mental illness and that it's all in my head.  Some people know a little bit about it and think they know what it is, so they say things like, "Oh, so you get tired? I get tired too," and then the conversation revolves back around them.  Other people know exactly how to "fix" me and offer all kinds of free medical advice.  All of it is funny on my good days and makes me feel worse on my bad days.
     It's hard living with an invisible illness.