My Illness May Be Invisible, But I’m Not.

John 7:24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.

Being a teenager with an invisible illness is tough. I look perfectly fine on the outside. No one has any idea that I am sick unless I tell them, but I’m far from fine on the inside.

Having an invisible illness can be great when you go about life not looking like a typical sick person and no one knows the truth about your weak and damaged body. It’s when people learn about your illness that it gets worse. Trust me, I get it, it’s a hard concept to understand that someone who looks fine isn’t actually fine; but just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Just because you can’t see my illness, doesn’t mean it isn’t real and doesn’t impact my daily life.

What you see on the outside is a beauty queen, a college student, a Tex-Mex fanatic, a proud and loving sister, daughter, girlfriend, and friend. What you don’t see are the medications I take in the morning so I can function half as well as the typical girl my age, the specific workout plan I have to follow to try to train my heart to work properly, the hours I have to lay in bed or sit on the floor in the bathroom fighting my debilitating nausea or the multiple doctors appointments I have scheduled every week.

And that’s okay because I don’t want you to see all of that. I want you to think I’m alright and strong, a fighter; but when you find out the truth, I want you to be my friend. I want you to be okay with not understanding how I may feel okay after eating a meal one day, but feel sick after a meal the next, or that I can’t always go out for social events because my body is too physically exhausted from trying to function. I’m not asking you to get it, I’m just asking you to accept it.

Last year, one of the people I considered my very best friend, didn’t accept the fact that she didn’t understand my invisible illness. Instead, she sent me the most hurtful and distressing text message I have ever received. It had many mean things written in it, but the most hurtful thing it read was, “Your illness is bullshit.” Those words have affected me every day since I got that message because it was the first time in my life someone hadn’t tried to understand.

I know that people don’t understand my invisible illness because I try my hardest to prevent it from affecting my life. And I will never expect someone to understand. I know that I do my best to maintain a “normal” life and strive to be recognized for my accomplishments outside of my illness. But that isn’t a reason to assume my illness isn’t real.

If you know that I am sick, please just acknowledge it and accept it. Be ok with the fact that I may look healthy on the outside, but my body is fighting to stay alive on the inside. Please know that I do my best to participate in as many regular activities as I can because I want to be a part of your life too. Just please don’t think my illness isn’t real, please don’t think I make it up for attention. Because if you lived a day in my life, you would know just how much I pray and wish I lived a regular life, like you.

I’m proud of my illness and I will never hide that it is a part of my life. I will continue to prove that my normal is just as good as your normal. I could never imagine a life without my illness because, without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

It may be invisible, but it is real. I may look fine, but I am not. My illness is a part of me, but it does not define me. I am so much more than my illness.

All I ask is that you accept me for who I am and how God made me. I’m not asking you to understand why He made me this way…because I don’t either. 

John 7:24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.