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Invisible Illness and Instagram

If you follow me on Instagram (and you totally should), you’ll see a lot of really nice pictures: a cute picture of me and Hubs when we got dressed up for Easter Sunday, some yummy Foodie Friday images, some adorable Kona shenanigans, and maybe a funny meme or so about chronic illness.

The perfect Insta-worthy picture! What you don’t see is how bone-crushingly exhausted I was after a morning downtown getting my hair cut. I spent the rest of the day on the couch recovering.

These images create a picture of my life.

 

But what you see is only a part of my life. You won’t see the really ugly bits.

 

You won’t see my messy home, the mountains of laundry that need to be washed, or the dirty dishes that seem to forever be in the sink.

 

You won’t see pictures of me proudly still wearing the same ratty sweatpants that I’ve had on for three days, my unshaven legs, my unwashed hair.

 

You won’t see pictures of all the plants I kill, because I like the idea of having live plants in the home, but they’re just too much upkeep when I can barely take care of myself.

 

You won’t see how many times a week I pick up food, because despite my best efforts, I can’t cook every day.

 

You won’t see my tear-stained face on the days when it all feels like too much.

 

But…And this is important, so don’t miss it…

 

Just because you don’t see my bad days doesn’t mean I don’t have them.

 

Just because I looked clean and put-together last time you saw me does not mean that is my normal.

 

Just because you don’t personally witness my pain does not mean that I’m not hurting.

 

Just because I’m smiling in the selfie does not mean I’m not crying on the inside.

 

It’s called “Invisible Illness” for a reason. There are so many aspects of this illness that most people will never see, and not just related to my physical appearance. And that’s okay. Really, it is. I don’t necessarily want everyone to see all the ugly parts of my life. But within the chronic illness community, I see the hurt and pain of judgement from loved ones who see only one part of our lives, and decide that we’re faking it, milking it, or simply being hypochondriacs. And that breaks my heart.

 

So here I am, telling you about my pain you can’t see and the piles of laundry in the hallway I don’t want you to see, not because I want you to feel sorry for me, but rather so that you are aware that there is usually more to a person’s life than what meets the eye or what they post on social media.

 

So let’s try to be more intentional about understanding what a person is going through before we make judgement calls about whether or not they’re really sick. Let’s extend grace to the person who flakes out last minute, even though they were fine yesterday. Let’s be kind and use our words to comfort and reassure, instead of wounding and doubting.

 

As the saying goes, “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

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4 thoughts on “Invisible Illness and Instagram

  1. Words of truth. We all are guilty of judging others, and this is exactly why one should never do that. You don’t know the real truth unless you are the one living it.

    1. I’m just as guilty as the next person on this one, unfortunately. It took life with a chronic illness to teach me this very valuable lesson…one of MANY I’ve learned along the way, haha!

    1. The rheumatologist tested all the classic trigger points for fibromyalgia at my appointment with him awhile back. They didn’t cause the pain that is typically associated with fibro, so it was ruled out.

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