I’m not gonna lie, this post is inspired by some nasty words that I exchanged with someone recently. Someone I know experienced an injury that has severely hindered her quality of life. This is still, of course, temporary, as it’s an injury, like all injuries.
The worst of injuries come with surgery, physical therapy, years of pain, arthritis, and debilitating pain. They come with giving up activities that you love, and they come with alterations to your life. I do not deny this. But, this is not all injuries; and most injuries reach a point of improvement, rather than a steady decline.
The debate arose about whether or not an injury was thus similar to invisible illness, or even chronic illness. There is no argument that chronic pain sucks. But, I argue that it’s in the same category of invisible illness, nor to chronic illness. And furthermore, I argue that chronic pain from an injury, while not diminishing it all, is almost a gift. It goes away; and it leaves behind an important memory that allows the patient to appreciate both their previous and post-pain body. It also allows people to appreciate the experience of sick people in a way that others may not.
It smacked me hard to hear someone with an injury categorize themselves as an invisible illness or chronic illness patient. I’m not sure why. Perhaps I’m still buried in my own grief; perhaps it’s still my own jagged little pill; and I am protective of it. But really, I’m not sure why anyone would want it, frankly.
Regardless, for someone to grab onto it, for the sake of sympathy, attention, or anything akin to that, seemed so silly. This, in turn, got me thinking about how you can tell if you really do have an invisible illness, or if you are full of attention-seeking bullshit.
So, if you aren’t sure, answer these three questions:
Do You Willingly Accept, Seek Out, or Try Any Insane Advice?
Does the next “big” cure like essential oils, vitamins, shakes, or any other random palliative sound like a panacea? Or, ask yourself, honestly, does it sound, like something you can use as a subject starter? In other words, you can legitimately bring your “ailment” up, with a friend, in a mutually beneficial conversation. Hey, you get to talk, and she (let’s be honest, it’s hardly ever men that sell MLM crap) gets to sell you shit. Guess what? You aren’t fucking sick. You are using your illness to talk bullshit, around more bullshit. Know how I know this? Because thieves oil (whatever the fuck that is) won’t change the shape of my skull, anymore than it will clean up cartilage in a bad knee. So, if you are hitting up your local Young Living (or DoTerra, or Isagenix, or fill-in-the-blank) rep, you are pandering for attention.
Are You Willing to Quietly Listen to ANYONE Else with “Similar” Woes?
When your Great Aunt Betty tells you that her neighbor’s sister’s mailman also used to once have a headache, are you all ears? Do you want to hear all about your baby-sitter’s menstrual headaches, anxiously awaiting your “turn,” to talk, just so someone will validate you? Guess what? You aren’t sick. Here’s the secret: the real people in your life are getting sick of hearing your bullshit stories over and over again, and the reason you are stuck in the position of listening to these windbags, waiting for your turn to talk, is because you have exhausted your loved ones with crappy, exhausting complaints.
Do You Sound Like a Hallmark Card?
Do you refer to your illness or ailment as a journey? Or, do you call failed doctor’s appointments, where they tell you nothing’s wrong, as “just another step in the road?” Are you writing your own “book of life?” Sweetie, this isn’t Eat, Pray, Love. If you are sick, truly sick, you’ll know it. It’s not a fucking journey. You’ll realize that once you know you are sick, it’s the end of the God Damn road. Know what that means, for real? It means that you grieve. You, no shit, grieve. A part of you dies. Remember what you know about the grieving process, with the real stages (sadness, denial, the whole she-bang?), real sick people are doing that. They aren’t on some hokey journey. They wake up angry on Monday, and hopefully accepting Tuesday. They aren’t, as a friend of mine said, fucking handsome men in Italy and eating their way through Europe, hoping to come to an epiphany about life. The "epiphany," is that their former life is over, and they have to find a new way to accept the shitty new one they've been handed. How's that for a fucking journey?
So, if you find yourself in one of these three questions, you are probably “fake” sick. It’s okay. Really. Being sick, from the outside, looks like a lot of fun. People pay a lot of attention to you. Well, it looks like they pay a lot of attention to you. So, that looks like a pretty sweet deal. For someone with a deeply empty life, that might seem like the best thing ever. But, let me suggest exploring why you think you want this, instead
Because, let me be the first to tell you, I wish that I could slap some DoTerra on my forehead, tell my mailman that I just have a headache, and that my journey is beautiful. Really. If being truly ill were that simple, and my life were my own again, perhaps I’d think it’d be a good gig. But being sick is about losing everything you ever knew. It’s about forgetting everything you ever dreamt. Forgetting your dreams. Forgetting hope. Finding a new soul. It’s the worst thing that can happen to a person, short of dying.