Invisible. Its not ever a feeling you truly understand till your chronically ill. Sure you can feel invisible to the opposite/same sex when looking for a partner, even at work when nobody notices you or your hard work, but having a chronic illness is a whole different ball game. Your illness is invisible.
I remember one of my first GP appointments, when unbeknown to me at that point my disc had gone, I walked in to see him, I’d only just started walking after 5 weeks of crawling everywhere. I was in the worst pain ever. I asked him if he could sign me off work till I had my first appointment with the surgeon, I wasn’t fit to drive, I could barely walk! Anyway he asked me what was wrong, so as per every visit I explained as best I could. His response “Your too Fat”. “And because your fat you’ve damaged your back” Those actual words left his old crinkly mouth. I remember being speechless, wanting to scream, punch his face and walk out, but i sat there and took it, all so I could get the sick line. When I got home, telling my hubby and trying to keep him from driving round there to shout at him was such an effort. I’ll never forget that day , those 10 minutes have had a lasting effect on me and those words have been repeated numerous times after that day.
Sitting at the company doctor after my surgery, I’m there to discuss if I’m fit enough to return to work, what hours I can do etc. I’m giving my life story again what happened to me and all the usual stuff and all of a sudden the words “You know, you really are fat”. I think he knew by my face how insulting and hurting those words were, or at least i thought he did, till he then went on to mention that I needed to attend Weight Watchers. So here we go again, driving home in tears, and angry tears at that.
Instead of saying “your fat”, why couldn’t anyone actually help me, did anyone actually ask me what i was eating? No! If anyone one of the numerous surgeons and doctors I have seen over the years had bothered to ask what I ate, maybe they’d understand that I wasnt eating junk and sitting on my backside, like so many people still think I do to this day. Look at me. I can barely walk most days. I’m invisible and hurt. Stop judging me. Start helping me.
I go about my business daily like I always have, I say hello to people I pass in the street, i open doors for people, I don’t ignore people, but people don’t ignore me either. Staring and whispers are the things that hurt the most, and I wish people knew how hurtful their action at that precise moment was.
I remember one day getting out of the car, I was heading to the local post office, and these 2 ladies decided to watch me all the way. I posted my letter then walked back past them and heard their mutters, they were asking each other what they thought was wrong with me. When they saw I was in a disabled space (I do have a disabled badge!) that just added fuel to their already burning fire. They got louder with their whispers. I wasn’t having a good day as it was, but being talked about right beside me wasn’t making my mood any better. I got back out of the car and shouted to them to ask if they had a problem. No response. The whispering continued. Again I asked them if they had a problem and again they ignored me. These 2 busy bodies were taking about me and made it plainly obvious too! I had to drive away, I’d have said something I’d later regret knowing me!
So this is what I mean by invisible. I have Degenerative Disease (amongst a whole other list of things – read that post HERE) it doesn’t require a part of my body to be in cast or a sling, it can’t be, it’s my back. When people see you going about your life they question why your in a disabled space, they stare, they glower at you, even make comments or whisper, but just because I have an invisible illness doesn’t mean I’m not human does it? If I was in a cast or a sling or even a wheel chair would I get a second glance? If I had something noticeably wrong with me would that help? Probably, but I don’t.
There are some unbelievably kind people in this world, they take time from their day to ask how you are and are just genuine kind soles. But then there are the other people of his world, the ones that would rather hurt you by their comments or by the look they give you. Those are the people that need to realise, not every condition is visible, there are thousands of people with other issues in their lives, invisible issues.
I am only one of many, many people with a so called invisible illness, but that doesn’t mean that we are any less of a person. Just because you can’t see what’s wrong, does not entitle you to pass judgment. We do have feelings too, we are human.
I am human.