By now most of you, if not all of you, know the many gut issues I suffer from. Although I have gained control of most of these issues there is something you may not know… there are still some times where control is the last thing I have. And that’s because I have an invisible illness. You’re all now probably thinking, “what???”. Yes, you read it correctly. An invisible illness is exactly how it sounds. It is an illness that others can’t necessarily see or notice on another individual but the individual who suffers from the illness has many internal, non-physical symptoms/reactions.
For me, that is Celiac disease. A few months back, I dedicated a whole month toward gluten free posts for Gluten Free Awareness Month. To check out the first post explaining what Celiac disease is, click here. You see, Celiac disease rarely ever shows noticeable symptoms other than excessive bloating and weight loss. However, internally your gut feels like a war zone.
Having an invisible illness is hard because society, friends, and family don’t always believe you because you look “fine”. Believe it or not, doctors sometimes question your symptoms, too. I know because it happened to me. It took about 1 whole year for doctors to diagnose me with Celiac disease, while false diagnosing and prescribing me in between. I plan on making a blog post one day explaining my experience with Celiac disease and my journey but today I want to focus on the category it falls under that tends to get neglected.
The problem with invisible illnesses are the lack of sympathy toward the people who suffer from them. There have been more times than I can count on two hands where no one took me seriously, called me names, and ignored me because it was like the story “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. I was always in so much pain and discomfort but yet I looked “healthy, “okay”, or “just tired” to other people, including medical professionals. After going through what I went through I can honestly say I have a lot of empathy for others suffering from something similar. It’s not easy being told you’re lying when you feel like you could get sick at any moment.
Aside from no one trusting or believing you, once you get diagnosed it doesn’t stop. Sure, now you have an answer and “proof” for the people who doubted you but your symptoms don’t go away overnight and they sure as hell don’t go away forever. Having an invisible illness takes time to understand, there’s a lot of trial and error. Figuring out what works for you and what doesn’t. Some days are better than others and the good days always outweigh the bad. But when those bad days do come, they hit you like a wrecking ball and it feels like you’re right back at square one. Not to mention any other illnesses, disorders, or deficiencies that come with the invisible illness. And yet those same people who didn’t believe you in the first-place think everything is all better once you get a diagnosis.
There have been many times where I rather sit at home than go out and I cancel plans because I just felt so bad inside, especially in the beginning when everything was so fresh. Luckily, I have more of a control on it and canceling plans happens not as often. I’ve learned, for the most part, what is best for me, what works, what doesn’t, and most importantly, when to say no.
I hope this brought some light to this subject I know doesn’t get discussed as often as it should. And I hope it makes you more aware of what is going on around you. Remember, healthy for you doesn’t always mean healthy for everyone else. Respect your friends and family and even strangers enough to know when they are hurting so you can be there for them.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you suffer from an invisible illness, too? Let me know! Comment on this post or head to my Instagram page! (@iamdevonjade)