I've let go of my anger towards the phrase, "But you don't look sick."
Before class today, I had an IV therapy appointment. I wake up every morning with fingers so swollen that they can't bend, but that doesn't mean that I don't use them to put makeup on when I feel like it. My body hurts all over, but that doesn't mean that I won't opt for wearing nicer clothes instead of my usual comfy-lazy style. I'm 22 years old, able-bodied passing, and a high-functioning perfectionist, but that doesn't mean that I'm too young, too outgoing, too "healthy looking" to have battled a chronic physical illness for 17 years. I have a disability and I don't care about your inability to comprehend that based on my appearance.
I headed straight to my class after my appointment, showed up, and sat down just like any healthy student would. From the outside, it appeared that I was a typical late college student because I stopped at Starbucks on my way (I went before IV therapy). On the inside, I was fatigued, fighting pain and anxiety, and recognizing my gratitude that I made it to my seat, despite my illness. & I don't need to tell anyone in my class that, because I know it's true. I don't "look sick", but I am. That's enough for me.
Against the odds, I am healing. Against the stigma, I am owning my illness. Against the experiences I've had in my life that have brought me so close to giving up, I am living. And you can too. You have nothing to prove to anyone, & if you are being honest with yourself, you don't need to feel at fault when people tell you that you must be healthy because you physically look that way. We are not the reason that people dismiss the validity of our illnesses; that's society. Let go of the accusations & the disbelief that only contribute to how isolated you already feel. Do what's best for you despite the judgments. But be honest about what you're going through, first with yourself before anyone else. Overexaggeration for the purpose of attention is part of the reason why the chronically ill are treated the way that they are. No matter how sick you are, that's enough. Don't try to be sicker than you are. Just do what you need to do for yourself. #rant