For me, my physical health and my mental health is so closely linked, it is difficult for me to know which is which. I have had physical pain and anxiety/depression for years now. I actually do not know which came first. It’s a bit like that question of “what came first? The chicken or the egg?” Do I have problems with my physical health because I have problems with my mental health or vice versa? In any case, it is all part of my everyday life. Like many fibro warriors, I have a few related health conditions often associated with it (as well as anxiety and depression) such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and TMJ (temporomandibular joint). So for this, I am going to use “invisible illness” instead of using a specific label. Below are just some of the effects that living with an invisible illness can have on my everyday life.
Invisible illness means feeling so much stiffness that it feels like my body is rigid and will never move again. For me, I imagine this must be how the Tin Man felt it The Wizard of Oz when he was rusted, before Dorothy gave him the oil to loosen him up. I have this every morning and quite often through the day.
Invisible illness for me means leaving the doctors surgery and breaking down in tears.
Invisible illness for me means having to lie down for a rest after a shower! I have so little energy that the effort of going through with a shower completely exhausts me. It means products like dry shampoo becomes a best friend.
Invisible illness for me means not being able to see my friends when I want. It means not being able to do activities with my friends. It means cancelling plans with friends.
Invisible illness is worrying about being a burden on loved ones. It is worrying about being too needy. Are they going to stop talking to you? Are you too much to deal with? Do you moan to much at them? Are they going to leave you? And then inadvertently pushing them away.
Invisible illness is needing to know that there are toilets near you. It is making sure that you know where it/they are located just encase.
Invisible illness can mean having an ‘escape plan’ in place. Knowing where exits are, knowing the fastest routes out.
Invisible illness not being able to do everything you want to do. It is about pacing yourself.
Invisible illness means having aids in place to help you keep as much independence as possible. Chairs, sticks, bars, wheelchairs, jar openers, dolcet boxes – anything that can make life easier. For me it is about having to accept that I may need aids in my life.
I have to point out, that it is not all doom and gloom! Like everybody else, I have good days and bad days. It is just a sad fact that people tend not to understand invisible illnesses. If everybody was kind to one another then society would be better. After all, everybody is just trying to feel their way through life.