Stuff That Doesn’t Mean We’re Okay

Posted on February 28, 2017 by MyFibroTeam

Life as a “normal” person is turned upside down when suffering from & living with chronic illnesses. Often these conditions are invisible. This can cause many to not understand and not believe that you’re as sick as you claim. They have to realize the despite the image we may project, we are in pain Every Single Day.

Then there’s the Catch-22.. Should I put forth an effort into my appearance when I miraculously do go out to look ‘normal’? Should I show up looking as bad as I feel? Or should I even bother going out? It’s a tricky thing — trying to live normally when your life no longer is. People tend to be surprised when we post a well-articulated paragraph on Facebook, have a good laugh, talk about things other than sickness (apparently lately ive been talking non-stop about Cub Scouts), write a highly researched, factually correct well written blog post, or bigger things like going on vacation even if it is just to go up to the cottage.

It is sad that we need to point out these things. It has hit many of us more than once that appearance, timed-just-right clarity of thought or momentary positive mood seem to adjust the perception of those around us creating more doubt in the truth that we each are really very, very sick.

So to that end, Take into account that while we may do things one day, these activities are not necessarily our norm, or it is something we have planned for well in advance. Review this non-exhaustive round up of things that do not mean we’re lying and actually okay:

1 – Articulation/Ability to Communicate Well

Admittedly this is currently one of my prominent disabilities, impaired cognitive function. However, many others can found themselves in the middle of a conversation in a rare moment of a clarity & articulation. And even myself even more rarely. These are the times where we have clarity of mind, excellent though process and the ability to communicate well. . In these moments, we are not communication like someone who is ill. It impairs the idea that Fibromyalgia and many other chronic disease do have cognative impairments.

i have actually spoken with several others with fibro who are highly cognizant in the change of their levels.. Personally I’m pretty sure my IQ has dropped at least 20 points by now, if not more.. In my mid-20s, I had an IQ of 180, thats hitting genius level. I haven’t had access to retesting, so I dont know 100% sure, but its pretty obvious to me.

2 – Laughing and Smiling

Apparently, those of us who are sick are not allowed to be happy, be joyful and positive. Yes, we are in pain & have memory/cognative issues, are drained & exhausted, have issues with sleep and deal with mental health issues, so some think it would get us down and we would not want laughter. In actuality, we need it the most because it feels good.. Smiling and laughing have little to do with someone’s health or pain levels. Those with chronic conditions have become strong from all the suffering they experience, they can still laugh and smile while in pain, which says not that the pain is low but that the need for relief is high.. Additionally laughing with others releases endorphins in the brain and it activates the release of the serotonin, both of which are homegrown feel-good chemicals which can only make us feel better.

3 – Getting Out

Being social is something we need to do. We can get both depressed and anti-social due to our chronic conditions. Some go “all out” as far as appearance: hair fixed, makeup, jewelry, and a dress. But I’ve never been one for being ‘dressy’ so when I go out I tend to be in jeans & a nice top. I’m not going out to impress, I am going out to have fun & enjoy myself.. But, I do tend to dress a little more sexy & with make-up when going to a club..

Some go out frequently. Personally, for purely social purposes, I go out once a week, maybe twice (without covid) . But, I also go out for Cub Scouts weekly which is different than social but is still getting out. I also get exercise – I walk weekly with my sister & our pups. We end up talking the whole time. I have also recently joined an exercise group that meets weekly which is also both social, but also exercise. Unfortunately, with my bff living out of town, & her also having fibro, we dont get to actually see each other that often even tho I have a key to her place.. I’d probably go out more if she was closer & she wasnt so busy with work..

So while we can & do get out, its not always a reflection on our health level. Sometimes we need to make accommodations. I’ve gone out to a bar, medicated on narcotics, to be with friends. (No, I wont drink) I’ve gone to Cub Scouts Day Camp the day after an unsuccessful ER visit, looped up on muscle relaxers & anti-inflammatories or MMJ. I had to go – I had half the equipment *&* the itinerary. Dont worry, there are other leaders because if I’m medicated, I don’t count for ratio. I’ve also usually had either a hot shower or preferably, a hot tub, when available, after almost any type of workout to minimize and even help prevent any residual issues I might have the next day or two. Unfortunately, there are still many times that I still need to cancel plans with scouting, friends, family & intimate relationships.

4 – Technological Activity

Technological socialization is all a lot of us have, especially with COVID. We tend to find typing on a keyboard or on text to be almost always easier. With the hermit life many of us live, we might also avoid telephone conversations because in & of themselves they can be stressful & exhausting. So when my whole body feels like death warmed over, but I’m usually more able to move fingers either on the laptop of cellphone. While a “activity” in no way suggests any other type of activity whatsoever, many people assume that because you are participating online that you are fully functional. Sometimes we express ourselves via social media just to stay sane.

If I post something non-health related or — shocker — something happy on social media or my blog, I wonder if others see it as me being “well,” which is never the case. Our illnesses are always, always there, even if we’re not talking about them at the moment. No matter how much we wish to ignore them, we would still prefer to make them go away.

5 – Announcements that Imply Activity

Many of us are creative people in some format even if is just colouring.. Due to COVID, many people have added extra creative outlets over the last 2 years.. But every new pursuit that is public in any form makes others wonder if, as mentioned above, people see those pursuits or accomplishments and think, “Oh see, she’s doing well.”

But you need to understand: I am on disability and I have no “real” job. My life revolves around creative outlets, medical appointments, cub scouts, health & wellness, Lilly, family, friendships and my social media & Blog. With my very messed up sleep schedule, I do dishes and laundry when I can, and attempting to keep both my pup Lilly and myself fed. Seriously. All of that is my every day. And as little as that seems to be, to my body, that is a whole freakin’ lot. And it gets overwhelming, and some days I can’t even do half of that.

But some days — or nights in my case — are better than others. And that healthy girl who lives buried in me somewhere is begging to come out and create, and sometimes I just have to listen. So when I post about the awesome stuff my Pack is doing, share images of my latest painting project, talk about my love of soccer, add to my Varage Sale store, or am chilling up at the cottage for a few days, all this is done either on a good day, or only take a portion of my day, but is the only activity.. What you see are ‘snips’, brief moments it time, a small glimpse into the parts of my life I want to share. And even then, some of those can be done while still laying in best, resting my body, but still having an active mind.

We are never fine. Whatever assumptions you make based on how we look, how we move, what we do, or even what people “think” we can do, the only thing safe to assume: we are always worse than you think we are


The original post was first published here, While I have kept some of the content, I have also made multiple changes with my own feedback, comments & experiences.

The original author Kacie Fleming has learned about health and treatment options into the nearly six years since being labeled with fibromyalgia. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and spends her time working on her handmade jewelry.

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