Judgement is something all of us face at one time or another in our lives. We might not always know about it. We have most likely been secretly judged while in a shopping centre, or maybe at the hairdressers or even outside our own homes. Almost every judgement is based on appearances. People we have never seen in our lives before will look at us and instantly make assumptions. I bet that everyone has done it themselves at one point. When people feel the need to tell you, in their opinion, what you should look like or how you should be dressed, that’s when it becomes a problem. Having an invisible illness opens up a whole new category for people to judge you on. Except, it’s not just strangers who judge you, close family and friends also feel it’s acceptable to do so.
Having an opinion is a right we have; chosing to share said opinion is another matter. What is said can be taken very personally and can easily damage relationships. I have experienced this judgement about my illnesses myself with an immediate family member and it has caused no end of stress and upset. To say someone is faking being ill is adding insult to injury and can massively impact that persons life. So what makes you think I’m faking being ill?
Firstly, my illnesses are invisible…to the naked eye. You can’t see scans and blood test results unless you are my doctor. The doctor has given me this diagnosis after collecting all data and we have devised a treatment plan between us to help manage my symptoms. Just by looking at me, you can’t see my illness.
Secondly, you must be really messed up to think that I would trade in a life of partying, days out, road trips, working, spending time with family and friends and actually enjoying my life, for this!! What I have now is merely existence. I’m not helping people, I’m not having fun, I’m not earning my own money, I’m not fulfilling any ambitions. This isn’t a life I would have chosen for myself.
So, just having a think for a moment and taking those points in, what “facts” do you have to “prove” that I, or anyone else, are faking being ill? Let’s see…
Maybe you saw me in the supermarket without my crutches? – What you didn’t see were my knuckles turning white from gripping on to the trolley for stability. You didn’t see that I missed off half the items on my list because I needed to get out of there so I could sit and rest.
Maybe you saw me with make up on? – What you didn’t see were the four days I spent previously without makeup on, with dark and puffy eyes from fatigue and lack of sleep. You didn’t know that I just wanted to make a little effort in a bid to feel more human and to make sure I didn’t scare any children with my bare face.
Maybe you saw me smiling and laughing with my partner? – What you didn’t see were the tears that had been rolling down my cheeks due to sheer exhaustion and feeling completely fed up with the constant pain. You didn’t hear my partner convincing me we should get out of the house for a short while to try and cheer me up. You didn’t see him planning to go somewhere that wouldn’t cause me anxiety or more pain.
That’s just a few examples. We never know what goes on in people’s lives. We make quick judgements based on a snapshot and think we are right to tell people what we think. Unless you are around someone constantly, you will never know the full and true extent of their illnesses and how much they impact their lives and the lives of those who care for them.
Be open minded, be kind and educate yourself on invisible illnesses. It’s better to help people than to judge them.