Mental Health

What to Do When You Live With an Invisible Illness

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Illness…of any kind are not fun. Whether you’re stuck with the flu for a week or are on crutches after breaking your leg playing soccer. Big or small, being sick is no ride in the park.  But the blog post this week is going to be about another kind of illness. The invisible kind. 

And one I personally have. Cancer of the cervical kind.

In today’s society, if you mention the “c” word, people get uncomfortable or give you the pity look.  I’m here today to put those thoughts aside and help anyone who might be going through anything like this. It’s not just cancer though. I’ve also been diagnosed with sciatica and a corn intolerance(goodbye my yummy soda!) but didn’t know for ten years. All I knew was that one day after cross country practice, I started hurting and didn’t know why. Along with depression, anxiety, and PTSD…
invisible illness heartbreak diet

At first, we thought it was just a muscle strain. Common in runners. The thing was, I was 15 years old and still in high school. Nobody could see that I was sick, not even my own family. People at my school would point and laugh when I was limping from class to class. My doctor had told me to take some Ibuprofen and that was it. Needless to say, I didn’t go back to her. 

I didn’t get any answers until I was almost 25. I had tried so many things. The Internet wasn’t much help since it was all over the place and my symptoms were more inclined to an older person than me. All I knew was that I could barely stand up for long periods of time, much less run anymore. Some days I struggled with just getting out of bed without extreme amounts of pain. I couldn’t eat a lot of food. I LOVED soda and I still do, but anything with corn syrup gets me sick. No dairy, even the dairy free stuff doesn’t work on me.  I would throw up any food I ate. 

Finally, FINALLY, I found a doctor who could help. My stomach pain? I had a corn intolerance. An intolerance is different than an allergy for those of you who are interested. My leg pain? After some shots and scans, I had sciatica. And finally, the big one. The one that I was tired and sick all the time…where I had such pain in my girly areas(sorry ya’ll, trying to keep this family friendly)…I had cervical cancer. 

I went home and cried. A lot. My husband went and brought me tacos like he did every time I was super upset even though they make me sick. I researched all I could. I went on a Medical Leave of Absence at work and had the surgery to freeze off the bad eggs. Writing this, it sounds shorter than the time it actually took.  I wasn’t able to go back to work. I was a Check-out Host and Cashier at Wal-Mart and couldn’t even STAND up for longer than a few minutes. 

This goes back to the invisible illness. I’m a young woman, below-average weight, healthy eating(for the most part). My Coworkers and customers knew me as the smiling and bubbly person. I hated them seeing me like this. Or worse, not seeing the pain I was in but only knew what I said. It would make me upset when people would talk about how they had just hit their arm on a table and how much it hurt. 

I was in intense pain ALL day, EVERY day. And I didn’t show as much as a wince. How’s that for a superpower? Comments would reach my ears that I was just lazy. And it hurt. 

But I didn’t give up. I started earning an income at home since I couldn’t stand up. I do physical therapy and I walk my dog on the days that I can. And the most important thing I can suggest to anyone when living with an invisible illness…cry it out. There’s nothing wrong with crying it out and having a sob fest. But then pour yourself a drink, take a hot bubble bath and handle it.  

HANDLE IT.

The world might not see your illness or your pain. But you KNOW what’s there. And YOU, my dear friends, are so much STRONGER than anything that your body or even your mind might tell you. YOU choose your life. Your path to take. And you matter. Illness does NOT define you. Your body might tell you have an illness, but YOU are what YOU decide to be.

Stay awesome my friends. And as always, keep smiling.

 

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25 thoughts on “What to Do When You Live With an Invisible Illness

  1. You are superwoman. My husband lives in chronic, daily pain that no one seems to understand because they can’t see it. Aside from his limps and occasional wincing, he looks like a perfectly healthy 32 year old guy. But just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Bless you for having such a positive outlook and not giving up on yourself. Keep fighting <3

  2. I’m so sorry that you are struggling with your illness. But I admire your courage in sharing your story and the optimism in your voice. I also have lived through some trials of my own that I blog about because it helps me release my pain onto paper. Wishing you the best and thank you for sharing.

  3. Thanks for sharing this very personal story with us. It just goes to show if you feel something is wrong never give up trying to find the right answer. Doctors are just human beings, the same as us and with the same ability to make mistakes. Shame it can be at the cost of health though.

    Enjoy the journey!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing. Living with an invisible illness is so difficult, especially when you don’t understand what’s happening and the world around you doesn’t understand. I’m SO grateful for the many opportunities to work from home that exist today that weren’t around 20 or even 10 years ago.
    Have you tried soda made with cane sugar? You might be able to drink it without getting sick.

    1. I can have about one a month. Soda was always my weakness but since getting sick, I don’t crave it as much as I used too. I always feel more sluggish and tired after I drink it either way, so I try to stick with my green tea and smoothies. Gives me more energy.

  5. It’s so great of you to share your experiences. There are so many people suffering in silence who can now turn to you and be like wait a minute, I’ve been like that too.

  6. I’m so sorry you are going through this. I can’t believe it took 10 long years to figure out what was wrong! I’m glad they were finally able to, so they can help you!

  7. Oh my goodness, you are such a brave inspiring person. I am so sorry for all that you are going through, but you are amazing. I love your positive outlook.

  8. Gloria, I’m so sorry you have had to suffer for so many years and endured being called “lazy” when you were trying the very best you could through the pain! I am inspired by your strength and resolve to go on even through all your physical and emotional pain! Kudos to you for wanting to help others going through what you have had to go through by being there for them and by creating awareness so they don’t have to feel alone.

  9. I’m sorry you’re going through this and I’m so happy that they finally found the answer to your pain.
    Treating everyone with kindness and being empathetic even if you don’t know their story can go a long way!

  10. I admire your positive outlook and I guess that is the best medicine in the world. I am sure you will get out of it soon…stay strong and keep inspiring!

  11. All the more reason why people shouldn’t judge and keep an open mind. We never know another’s daily struggles and journey. Sending you love!

  12. Thank you! I have celiac disease and I still struggle with my family and friends taking it seriously. It makes me sad that people don’t consider my sickness the same as if I had something they could see.

  13. Rest assured you are not alone. I have had issues with cervical dysplasia. I have been dealing with chronic anemia, arthritis, fibromyalgia & a few other issues for since I was in in my early 20’s. Take time to explain to those that sincerely want to understand and don’t fret about the ones that don’t because it’s just not worth the stress or hassle. 🙂

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