Monday, July 8, 2013

But you don't look sick...

How many times have you ever heard someone say " But you don't look sick" as you start to tell them that you have been down and not yourself for awhile? Just because someone feels sick does not mean that it is going to be wrote all over them "I am sick" or a sign over their neck "germ machine". Most times, people feel ill and no one would know it because it is human nature to put our best face forward and keep on going although inside we are about ready to break down and fall into the fetal position in the nearest corner.

I think it is part of human existence to keep going for as long as we can despite how we feel inside and look upward and not focus on the inside turmoil and anguish that is present more and more. So, although the people we meet on a regular basis or run into every so often appear to have it altogether, they too may be putting their best face forward when they too want to be in the very corner we have had to just pick ourselves up from to keep moving forward in life.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all the same, we all have our ups and downs along with many struggles. Just because you may be a Psychiatrist and another person work for Wendy's does not mean that you do not struggle any more or any less with your mental health. No one is immune to suffering. Often times where the stigma lies is within the health profession unfortunately because these people "should" have it together with community standards. These people tend to suffer in silence longer it seems.

So if a person doesn't look sick then how are they sick then? Well there are lots of sicknesses out there that are easier to hide then some. A cold or the flu is harder to hide as it has visible symptoms where you can see the person is suffering. Some headaches are a bit easier to hide then a migraine. A sore foot can be played off if the person is good at it but if it is really sore then it is harder to pretend nothing is wrong. A broken foot... you might as forget it with trying to say all is okay as you limp around with a heavy cast on your foot. A muscle twitch is sometimes easier to play off than a seizure in the body. What would you tell these people with physical ailments in order to get better? I bet it would be rest and go easy on yourself, making sure you do things when you feel your body is able to do them and not push yourself.

What about sicknesses that affect us mentally? These are often less visible and often the symptoms of the reason the problem can be seen. The symptoms is what what people typically see: the crying or teary eyes, the blank state, the forgetfulness, the poor concentration, the shift in mood, having issues coping with small tasks. Normally people who have not experienced any sort of mental illness would tell these people to pull up their socks and enjoy life, if only they were to get out more and smile then things would be better, to get off their rears and go do something with their lives rather then faking it to not have to work the rest of their lives.

I have heard people tell me in the past if only I believed that I would get better then I would, that my mental illness would go away. That I was not thinking positive enough and working hard enough in my recovery process. This is enough to want to slap the person in their face because they do not live in a mind that has mental illness day in and out and they do not understand the trails that one has to go through daily in order to face the world. I am one of the strongest people that I know who has battled and tried daily to overcome things. Some people are so insensitive and offer advice where it is not ask for, and these are one of the times.

So before you judge someone because they don't look sick, have compassion for them because chances are the other 10 that have walked by them thought the same thing "They don't look sick" or don't need to be shown compassion. It would be a better world if everyone shown each other compassion without feeling the need to because people look ill.

*stepping off my soap box for the day*


  1. I wish everyone I know would read this!!! thank you so much for putting it all into words.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Perhaps one day people will have more compassion to those who suffer from an invisible illness compared to current life. I encourage you to share this post to people who you feel may benefit so that they will understand and know that things need to be changed in society. Blessings to you my friend.

  2. So , so true for a lot of people. Walk in those shoes and then you can talk. No one knows what it takes for those with invisible diseases to just put a smile on their face every morning. The stigma that some people have toward what they cant see is almost more contagious than what leprosy was before treatment. Ignorance is one of the worst kind of disease that exist in the modern society.
    There is a great deal of stuff we know nothing about and it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.
    So when you use your voice to talk about the invisible, be careful not to disappear from the conversation due to a lack of compassion because Karma is a bite in the butt that you only feel when you least expect it. Maybe one day you will be the invisible with the stigma.
    Stay aware of what you cant see because one day your own shadow might know more than you do.
    Scary but true.

    1. So often people judge a person by their cover and do not get to know what is inside. It is sad really and shows that more and more people in society become more shallow then ever before. I often wish that some people would be able for a day to experience a person's illness that they do not know or try to understand so that they may learn compassion and how another person truly feels and struggles to make it through day in and out living with such things. It would certainly make people more compassionate to others around them. Sometimes, I wish that I could live as someone else for a day so that I could understand their battle and be more empathetic to their life and situation. There is a lot to still be learned through life and communicating with others.

      People sometimes get so busy with life that they lose compassion and focus on themselves too much. The age of technology, people often are looking at their phones rather then dialoging about things with other people. We are starting to forget how to really communicate and get to know people in our lives. Then, more and more there is stigma that comes out of things and rears its ugly head. This is why it is so important to get to know a person before judgement is placed upon them for what others do not know.

      Thanks for your comment. Together we can change how people view invisible illnesses.

    2. Sometimes its the ones who are closest who can't get it. I always hated the reply from my ex wife...... "you choose to be sick" Or my ex girlfriend would say "I can't 'fix you'" There are some things we can do for ourselves, however they too take energy and concetration and focus. So until we get to that point, we hope and pray things will be better. And we do push ourselves. Every day. Some days it might take all we have to shower and dress. To go out into the world. And overtime it hopefully gets easier.
      This summer I tried to go to a congnitive therapy group. It started out fine, but half way through I could not follow it. I got lost, overwhelmed, anxious.... and had to drop out of the group. So even though I know it could benefit me, I was not ready. And no one can force someone to be ready. It has to be on their terms. That's not to say we are not willing, rather not able.
      So what do you say to those who say "snap out of it" ? Or "it is all the way you think"? which is my least favorite cause that means its all my fault. Let me beat myself up some more.

    3. There is a lot of harsh things that people say particularly pertaining to mental illness. These things are hard to hear and harder to know how to respond.

      Remember the truth and know in your heart what you feel- that you cannot snap out of it... it is a real medical condition, the same as asthma or a heart condition for example. No one can think their way out of an asthma attack can they or heal themselves of a broken bone? Those thoughts seem silly- so why would someone think that way regarding a mental illness.

      You know yourself what is true- keep your focus on that and try not to let others bring you down- stay assertive and learn to like yourself. By liking yourself, you will realize that people's opinions will not get to you as much. Then, eventually you will become less affected by them.

      Keep your head up and thanks for writing.