1. You never know what a person is really going through
I am very good at putting on a front. I am the epitome of the “fake it till you make it” principle. On a normal day I might look a little tired, and be a little quiet but those are generally the only signs of my illness that are visible. Yet if you really pay attention, the signs are there. This has taught me to look for the signs in others. It has taught me that even the person who is always put together and accomplished, might actually be hurting inside. It has taught me compassion and the importance of valuing the feelings of others.
2. You are stronger than you think
You never know how strong you are until that moment when your whole life crashes down and you and you’re left to pick up the pieces. I had that moment, and I realized that I was capable of picking up the pieces and even building a new life for myself. I can do hard things.
3. There is no shame in asking for help
I am strong, stubborn, and overly independent, but my invisible illness has taught me that sometimes I need to ask for help. Because my illness is not visible it is not always immediately obvious that I need help. I need to be willing to let go of my pride and ask for assistance when I need it.
4. I am not worthless just because I don’t have a career
I always planned on having a career. I’m a relatively smart and capable person and I once had a lot of ambitions. The moment I realized I was never going to meet those ambitions nearly crushed me. All the hard work I put into in school suddenly seemed like a gigantic waste. Plus all my life I had been pushed towards establishing a career, how could I even be a person of worth if I didn’t work? It took some time, but eventually I realized that work is not the only purpose in life. It’s more important to be a good person than to be the best in your field.
5. Surround yourself with supportive people
Having an invisible illness has taken a heavy toll on me. It’s hard being sick all the time and not having anybody understand. It’s hard having to explain your health to people over and over again. That’s why it is important to be surrounded be supportive people. The negative people in your life need to go. You don’t have the energy to put up with their BS. Also, find a support group, Whether it’s in person or online, you need to talk to other people who know what you’re going through.
6. Sometimes you are completely helpless and have no control
I am a control freak. I want to control my body and my illness. I want to do all the right things so that I can see the right result, but it rarely works that way. Having an invisible illness has taught me that I have to let go of control. Trying to control everything will only make me feel worse. I can only do my best, and then I have to accept the results whatever they may be.
7. It is not your job to prove your illness
When your illness is invisible you have to deal with people who think you are faking on a regular basis. Because you look normal, it can be hard for people to understand how sick you are and so they will want proof of your illness. It is not your job to prove that you are sick. If someone does not believe you, that is their problem, not yours. You have to have to implement radical self respect. You are who you are, there is no need to apologize for it.
8. Happiness can be found, even in the midst of suffering
When you are sick you learn to celebrate the small victories. You learn to appreciate the good things for what they are. You can enjoy things like a sunny day, children laughing, or animals playing even though you are hurting.
9. Sick people are only human
I am not perfect, I am human and I make mistakes. Having an illness is hard and sometimes I do not deal with it perfectly, and neither will you. There will be times when the stress of not being understood and the pain and fatigue that you feel will make you angry or sad. It may lead you to lash out unfairly. It may cause depression. It may lead you to isolate yourself. That is okay. The important thing is to pick up, move on, and forgive yourself. Don’t give up.
10. Illness changes you
Having an invisible illness is hard, it makes a heavy impact on your life. I’m not the same person that I was before I got sick, and that is okay. You can’t expect to deal with something so difficult and come out of it unaffected. The important part is to embrace the new you and don’t look back to often. There are good things that come from being sick, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.