Last week was Invisible Illness Week, and I was planning to write a post or two for it, but got caught but in the craziness of uni and was too tired to do anything towards it.
So many things are invisible. The world is full of people pretending to be completely fine when maybe in reality they are sad, depressed, in pain or feel lost because they have something going on in their life and have no idea what to do. And it's almost completely impossible to know who these people are unless they tell you.
I have an invisible illness. But I doubt that anyone looking at me would guess. To most people in the world I'm a completely healthy 19 year old girl, which in a way is completely true. My immune system is awesome. I almost never get sick in the regular way, with the flu or something other virus. I don't even have any allergies. My immune system may be awesome, but my nervous system definitely is not.
Migraines are basically the nervous system gone weird. Nobody's quite sure exactly how the nervous system goes weird, so the theory keeps changing. I won't got into it now but in essence, people are pretty ignorant about how migraines work.
If medical people aren't entirely sure what's going on, how can everyone else? There are so many misconceptions and judgments made about migraines that in the end people don't talk about it. I don't. Telling people opens yourself up to lots of criticism and/or ignorance. And knowing that, I have no idea how to start that conversation, even with people that I trust to not judge me on that.
I think it's similar for other invisible illnesses. If people can't see it, they tend to have doubts. It's hard to doubt someone with a cast on their arm that they injured it, but if after the cast comes off and it's long healed the person says they still have pain, I bet that even if no one said so, they'd doubt that the person was telling the truth. It doesn't follow expectations. Once the cast is off and the doctor says they're healed they have to be, don't they?
It's the same with so many other illnesses. People doubt because they're invisible.
"Think positively and you'll feel better."
"But you don't look like you're in pain..."
"Why are you taking so many pills?"
"You're young, you don't have to worry about that."
"Have you heard about/tried...?"
"Can't they give you something for that?"
I've had variations of the above said to me at some point in the 2ish years I've had frequent migraines. Usually by people that should have known better. They decided at the time that expressing their disbelief was more important than my feelings.
I believe people should learn to look outside the small view they see of another person and think of the possibilities. The next time you judge someone negatively, pause to think that perhaps they're having a horrible day with many bad things happening to lead up to that moment, or perhaps having to deal with something, day to day, that you can't even begin to imagine. People need to realise this for everyone's sake, because maybe they'll be in a position that's hard to understand one day.
Wow, I didn't know that was all there. All these words that want to come out, after so long of refusing to talk about the topic. And to think that all that was preventing me from saying this was fear of being judged. At least on the internet I can't see people's reactions...