The Many Faces Of Chronic Illness.

Hi readers,

This is a must read.

I apologise for my recent absence.
Illness Army is incredibly popular, and I have only made time to go through each of your emails and publish your stories instead of my own.
Ihave also had a lot going on in regards to my health, a few rough flareups and became lost in my dark thoughts, symptoms and busy agenda.

Even though I have been absent on WordPress, I have not been so absent on Social Media.
I have received an influx of personal messages lately reading the following:
You are looking great lately. You must be feeling better,”
and,
I have seen that you have been getting out more lately. You must feel fine!”

Incredible.
Photos begin circling of my face painted with a little bit of makeup, hair straightened, sitting in a public place and suddenly everyone remembers that I am still alive, and I am deemed as cured/better.

Firstly, I am not cured.
I don’t know how to respond to the “feeling better” statement.
I don’t know why society assumes that someone that appears to look healthy, is healthy.
If anything, I am adjusting better to my new norm.

Secondly, yes I might be out – I can assure you it was for an hour, no more.
Do you know how much strength and additional effort it takes a Chronically Ill sufferer to get up and leave the house for ‘events’?
I don’t know about you, but I personally have to be dragged out kicking and screaming. Every inch of my body aches, I am trying to hold in my wanting to vomit and the last thing I want to do is be in public being stared at because ‘the normal looking girl is walking too slow’.

I don’t know how to feel when I receive these personal messages.
Do I take it as a compliment, with pride?
Or do I take it as an insult? As people come to me after seeing a photo or a post, telling me that I look great, and then 101 question me as to why I am still not at work, why I am still in appointments, why I am still unable to drive and why I missed our lunch date.
I am continuously spoken to like they think that at the snap of my fingers I can just turn on the Health Button. It is strongly ringing in my head as an insult.

It’s always one extreme or the other.
I am either deemed well enough to run a marathon, or I must sit in my house alone all day because the symptoms are making me miserable.

There is never an inbetween.
People don’t understand that we can feel strong enough to go out some days, but still come home sick/still be sick>

Are people naive enough to think that I’m going to happily post a photo of myself when I have acne all over my face, I’ve been vomiting my organs out and I am so pale that I could be mistaken for Casper the Ghost?
Ah no, and I am certainly not going to post a Facebook status about how I contemplated killing myself four times this week, either.

I, like you, choose to only publicise my achievements; the days that are slightly more bearable than others, and the photos that make me look half-decent. Why? Because I’m human.

Forgive me if I, too, want one day where I look ‘normal’, ‘beautiful’, ‘unpained’.

Well, maybe this is the problem?
Maybe sufferers of Chronic Illness are feeling pressured to be something we are not; healthy.
Maybe this is what needs to change; I/we need to make our statements raw, and our photos as honest and natural as they can be, in order for everyone to stop and take notice of the bigger picture.

So, I have taken a ‘selfie’ every day for the past thirty days, to show you that appearances are not everything.
I am not “pretty” every day and I don’t even care.
But, mostly, I want you to see the fluctuation.
I want you to see the face behind the “makeup days”.
I want to share that there are MANY faces of Chronic Illness that aren’t often publicised.
I don’t get to pick and choose what days I am ill and unable to leave my house. I don’t get to pick and choose which events I have to cancel, or when my flareups decide to make place or for how long they last. You cannot make a solid judgement from the photos; you can only make ASSUMPTIONS.

And queue the non-sick raising their hands, asking, “but you were able to go out some days so why can’t you just push yourself to go out EVERY day?”

Some symptom days are just HARSHER than others.
The point is, I did not wake up CURED.
I felt sick the entire time, but some on some of the days the symptoms were just easier to manage than the others.

I have days where I walk down the street and you would not think that I was suffering with severe pain or nausea twenty-four hours a day… and then there are days where I look pale and pained; there are days when I run to the toilet, I can’t speak due to nausea and I’m curled up in a ball on the floor crying.

I want you to know that it is OKAY to have days where you don’t wear makeup, don’t feel like going out to see a friend, your hair looks frizzy, your skin looks like a dot-to-dot puzzle. It’s also okay to get a day where you feel well enough to get dressed up and do things, and to still come home at the end of the night being sick. It’s OKAY.

Take a look at my photos, and before you jump to drastic conclusions, assuming that I have magically overcome my illness overnight – let me tell you that I haven’t.

IMG_9785IMG_9786IMG_9787FullSizeRender

I’ll let you in on a little secret;
I was sick every single day in each of these photos…

But, you wouldn’t know it by looking at me.

C xo

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10 comments

  1. I can’t help but to take “You don’t look sick” as a sincere compliment. I don’t want to look sick! I don’t want to be the girl who you see falling apart before your eyes. If I’ve fooled you than good for me, I’ve made one person see me as normal. I’d love to be “normal”, I’m not, but at least I can look it!
    What i’d say to those people is “thank you, that makes me feel good because you have no idea how awful I feel right now!”
    xxoo

    Liked by 3 people

  2. It’s a struggle to be so beautiful 😉

    I’m guilty of feeling a little perturbed when people tell me I look well, despite not actually being well. That was until I received several comments, either directly or secondhand about how frail I looked. I didn’t feel any different than I had when I was complimented on my appearance. It made me wonder if I screwed up my makeup or needed to find a new person to do my hair, but in reality it was probably the wheelchair making my illness more visible. I like feeling normal, even though I know I’m not. I rarely go out, so when I do I take the extra time to make my face public-friendly. I don’t want to scare the kids 😉

    They only see your good moments, and that’s all they have to base a judgment on. I’m sure if any one of those people spent an entire day with you, it would be an enlightening experience for them.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is a great post, wonderfully written and I totally agree with all you’ve said. I think the main problem is that people still don’t understand the depth to mental illness and I think we have much more educating to do. Thank you for writing such a beautifully powerful post C:

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s so frustrating when people don’t understand that the ability to slap on some makeup and appear put-together for a short period of time doesn’t mean that we’re magically cured. I feel like it’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of thing. If you look ok and are seen in a public setting, then obviously you’re cured. But if you stay in all day because you don’t feel well, then obviously you’re not trying hard enough. I can’t understand how people can actually think like that. It’s not so black and white. Nothing in life is that black and white. I wish there was a way to make people understand, but I certainly haven’t figured out how yet.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I completely agree with you. When I go out people assume that I feel fine and am all better. I’m not better but I managed to make myself look human, brushed my hair and put on makeup. I try to put on my ‘healthy face’ out in public to avoid the questions and discussions that I usually do not have the strength for. The thing that kills me is I’ve put on this ‘face’ for so long to save people’s worry that if I don’t paint myself up people freak out. They’re thinking I’m on death’s door when I just had to go get milk and didn’t have the energy/strength to bother.
    P.S. despite feeling awful you are extremely beautiful in ALL of your pictures

    Liked by 2 people

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