5 Things to Remember About People with Invisible Illnesses

By Brittany

Last weekend I had the pleasure of having one of my good friends from back home come to visit. We had been planning her trip to visit me for almost three months and we were beyond excited for our girls weekend!

As I wrote about in my last blog post, I had a severe gallbladder attack and was recovering from surgery at the beginning of October. I was assured it would be a speedy and easy recovery, and that my life wouldn’t change without a gallbladder. But what the hospital staff didn’t realize, is my body isn’t like most other bodies. It kinda has a mind of its own.

Just over a week after I was discharged, I was back in the hospital with a blood clot scare and further testing. Luckily, it turned out to be gas and muscular pain caused by doing too much too quickly after the procedure. I knew better, but I have FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.

The old Brittany is still within me and she still likes to come out and play. I’m at war with her and my body a lot of the time because for so long I pushed through my invisible illness to the point that I was getting questioned whether or not it was as bad as it was or is.

The extrovert and people pleaser in me still wanted to host Thanksgiving dinner and play Suzy Homemaker, even though I have endless support and no requirement to do so. And if I’m being completely honest, I care about what people think of me and my ability to function in life with an often debilitating invisible illness. So I push through until my body gets loud enough that I can no longer ignore it.

Back to my girls weekend…

A few days before her arrival, I had warned my friend Cass that we might need to adjust our plans for the weekend as my body was clearly angry with me. Of course she was understanding and okay with that, but in the back of my mind, I wasn’t. I deserved to have a fun-filled weekend after all I had been through recently!

We walked 18,000 steps on that first day chasing waterfalls and exploring the breathtaking autumn scenery of Southern Ontario. Cass kept checking in with me and monitoring how I was doing as my pain and body fluctuated throughout the day. I powered through, and although I was absolutely exhausted, I was overjoyed and proud of myself.

The next day, my body was all done within four hours of exploring. I pushed through and still enjoyed myself, but knew I would pay for it later.

We took a bunch of pictures and after posting some of them to social media, I got a few comments from people saying they were glad to see me feeling better and having so much fun. It’s true, I had a blast, and I was definitely feeling better post-op, but my head was exploding almost the whole time.

Migraines are an invisible illness that can easily be masked with makeup, a smile, and “normal human clothes,” as I like to call them. If you look close enough, you can see the pain in my eyes, but most people see it as tired eyes.

Two days after Cass left, I woke up covered head to toe in hives, the source of which is still unknown. My migraine has been a consistent 7-8 on my pain scale for the last week and I know it’s my body paying me back for not listening to it, but I’m okay with it.

I am entitled to have three days of fun and I’m grateful we were able to check everything off our to-do list. I wouldn’t change a thing about that weekend. It was worth the price I’m still paying.

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Here are 5 things I want you to remember if you see me or anyone else out with an invisible illness, looking like we’re fine and having the time of our lives.

1. It’s highly unlikely we’re actually fine. Just because you can’t physically see the pain or illness doesn’t mean it’s not there. Remember, we’ve become experts at living our life to the fullest despite our illness.

2. It takes a lot of effort and energy to actually go out and enjoy our lives. With that also comes the need for backup plans and disclaimers in the event our bodies get loud enough and we need to go home.

3. There is a price we pay and we make the conscious choice with each outing to be prepared to pay it. Sometimes it can take days to recover from a single grocery shopping trip alone. If there’s something more exciting to look forward to in the days to come, that price might not be worth it and we’re best off conserving energy for the next exciting thing.

4. FOMO is a real fear and is a huge trigger for anxiety. It breaks our heart to say no to an outing, to cancel at the last minute, and worse yet, to eventually have the invitations rescinded altogether when friends and family begin to expect you to say no without even asking. Please keep asking.

5. Those outings are what keep us sane and on the path to healing. Hopefully one day we don’t have to weigh the pro’s and con’s of going out and the prices we will pay. Hopefully one day we can go out and fully enjoy ourselves, without any masks or a pharmacy in your bags.


“One step at time, one foot in front of the other, I’m gonna get through this, one way or another.” – Unknown

 

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One thought on “5 Things to Remember About People with Invisible Illnesses

  1. Kelly Alive says:

    So true!! Thank you for this post!

    (Also, these lyrics “One step at time, one foot in front of the other, I’m gonna get through this, one way or another” can be found in a song by one of my fave bands, called Four Year Strong!) ❤
    -Kelly

    Like

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