Surviving My Invisible Illness

ErinDay-to-Day Life16 Comments

A lot of people use their blog as a place to vent about their life.  I try not to use this blog like that because I want to spread knowledge, share tools, and give people hope. I don’t feel able to do that right now, though, so here’s a bit about what’s going on for me in a less-than-uplifting sense:

I’m aware that I’m in a bad spot. In light of everything I’ve experienced, this is minor, but I should stay in tune with my feelings so that I can take care of myself. And my biggest feeling tonight is fatigue. Depression is so hard. It’s always present, sucking at my energy, draining my positivity. Murmuring in my head about how the bus just blew past my stop today only because I am insignificant.

Lately I’ve been spending only a few hours a day with others. More social interaction would probably help me feel better and so I try more and more to be social. But then when someone says no to my invitation, it kind of wipes me out. It’s like, “Okay, there goes my shot for today” because it takes so much out of me. Same for shopping, going to therapy, hell, even going out and ordering a coffee. Functioning is so much work!

And then it pretty much goes without saying that it makes applying for a job extra hard, yet having a job would lead to consistent daily social interaction, and more friends, so I really want one. I just can’t predict how I’ll be feeling from one moment to the next.

Then I judge myself for not trying harder to be “normal” and “productive” and “sane.” I fear that the world sees me as self-indulgent, irresponsible, and most of all, lazy. I see myself that way, though I need to take full scope of what’s going on: depression, therapy, and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms that are keeping me from being at a place where I can work.

I catch myself being envious of those with a visible disease or injury. I obviously don’t want to be sick or injured at all, but if I had a broken leg, I wouldn’t be berating myself for not taking dance classes, and neither would the rest of the world. People wouldn’t be able to look at me and forget that I have a broken leg the way that the world can look at me and forget I have depression. I’m the most skilled person in the world when it comes to putting on a mask of happiness and it can make people think that I’m doing well when I am not.

Yet sometimes I’m even too tired for that anymore. It actually has taken a long time to learn that I don’t need to smile all the time, that I can be real about how I’m feeling.

Oh, but about three weeks ago I got off the bus downtown and some stranger said to me, “SMILE!” and I gave him this ICY look right back. If he’d said something like, “It’s a nice day, isn’t it?” it would have made me smile, but instead he chose to stick his nose where it didn’t belong. He berated me for not pleasing him by wearing a mask. It made me so angry!

So that’s it for now. Being real about my emotions here is validating. I feel a bit better now.

P.S. Maybe there are some positive things in this post for you to take away:

1. Staying in tune with your feelings can help you take care of yourself

2. When you’re being hard on yourself, make sure you take everything into account, especially your mental illness(es) if you have them

3. Practice taking off your mask and let your face show your true emotions once in a while. It feels really good, even if others don’t get it!

ErinSurviving My Invisible Illness

16 Comments on “Surviving My Invisible Illness”

  1. Hope4Sanity

    I can relate to this. Invisible illnesses suck.

    Even worse I find in some ways is having a visible invisible illness!
    When I wear summer clothes I can’t choose to hide my mental illness. But heck it’s hot…and why should I hide my body?

    But nobody ever says anything so I have no clue what they may or may not be thinking. Then I feel invisible all over again. But I also don’t want to be noticed for the scars…and it goes round and round.

    It’s hard feeling invisible. And hard being visible for what society sees as the “wrong” reasons.

    I guess I try to just focus on being myself. But that isn’t easy either and doesn’t always feel desirable/probable or possible. So there comes the mask you describe. Being a mother of young children I feel like I have to have the mask on so much of the time. I’m afraid someone might call CAS (my mortal fear since becoming pregnant 6 years ago) or that someone might not want their kids playing at my house because I have a mental illness.

    But so far neither thing has happened.

    Hang in there. Sending positive thoughts your way today and everyday. I share your dream that slowly society will change its view of mental illness and those who live/suffer/die and even recover with/from it.
    Until then, keep on writing and being gentle with yourself.

    1. daisiesandbruises

      Thanks, Brie. Yeah, my scars are mainly healed now so when people see them they know they are old-ish, so I imagine they quickly look at the rest of me for indicators of my current mental status. I’m terrified about having kids when it comes to my scars. I hope to either have them tattooed over by that time or I don’t know, have another feasible plan of how to deal.
      Be gentle with yourself, too. <3

  2. destroythequeen

    It’s really interesting tha you posted this now. I have just seen my GP and made an appointment to see a new Psychologist next week.

    My GP seems to think that the crippling depression I’ve been enduring for the last year (worst period I have had in a long time) I am actually better now. And she thinks that because I have some “good things” happening (planning a trip overseas, a new relationship etc) means that I am doing better.

    A close friend also told me to “keep my chin up”.

    The thing is, it’s not as simple as “keeping your chin up” or having good things happen, staying positive. Sometimes you are stuck. You’re stuck down that pit. On your back like a turtle, flailing your legs to get back up, but you can’t.

    Feel your emotions. Feel your depression, your fatigue. Feel the sadness. Feel the anger and the fear. Feel it all, because when you start to feel it and not try and push it away, pretend it isn’t there, that is when it starts to consume you.

    One day at a time darling.

  3. kilian francis

    “I fear that the world sees me as self-indulgent, irresponsible, and most of all, lazy. I see myself that way, though I need to take full scope of what’s going on: depression, therapy, and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms that are keeping me from being at a place where I can work.” Well said–although it’s kind of strange telling someone you like their beautiful use of language to describe depression, etc. Sounds very familiar….

  4. Regina

    oh, darling- when people say things to me like – “smile!”- i totally shut down. you are right- they are sticking their nose in our business- and telling us basically, this is what we should do to make THEM feel better. um, no…

    i agree- the best thing we can do is be honest with ourselves as to how we are feeling.

    i love you, erin. you are wonderful and brave.

    1. daisiesandbruises

      Yeah, the only time anyone should ever tell us to smile is when our picture is being taken, and even then it should be optional! I love you too, Regina! So much. Be well! <3

  5. Kinnery

    This was definitely one I needed today! I’ve been similarly berating myself for being unable to work (I’ve applied a few places, but I know that even if I got a job, I wouldn’t be able to function consistently enough to maintain it), and then stressing about money because I have no income. It’s a frustrating cycle. And I feel like I don’t have a good reason to be unable to work. It feels like laziness. I had to leave school this semester, and I’m not working, and everyone keeps asking what I’m doing these days, and I have no answer for them.
    I always pretend I’m fine, but your honesty has inspired me: I’m not in a good place right now either. I’m in a really, really bad place. But since I’m now acknowledging that, I know steps I can take to keep myself safe.

    We should get together soon. I know that’s probably anxiety-provoking for you, so don’t worry if you can’t, but it would be nice! I can make the plans if you’d like. Do you have a phone/my number? If not, I’ll e-mail you so we can try to coordinate something. I definitely need to cut back on my isolation.

    (Sorry for turning this into a huge rant about myself, I don’t mean to be so selfish. Your blog just opens up a place for me to be honest, which I really appreciate.)

    1. daisiesandbruises

      Hey Kinnery,

      I would LOVE to get together with you. Do you come back to London very often? Email me and we can work something out. :)

      You are never being selfish in writing about yourself, EVER. I love your comments! I’m sorry to hear that you’re struggling right now, too. Hang on. *hugs*

  6. Heather

    I definitely understand what you mean when you say are envious of people with visible illnesses…I feel the same way all the time. I get so angry when people don’t believe there’s anything wrong because they can’t see something obvious. It bothers me both about the fact that I have a mental illness and the fact that I have a learning disability. Sometimes I want to tattoo ‘learning disabled’ on my forehead so I can stop explaining it all the time. Ironically, people seem to be just as ignorant of learning disabilities as they are about mental illnesses. They have a very similar reaction of thinking that if I just try harder somehow it’ll all work out. Anyways, this is more of a rant about learning disabilities than it is mental illness, but having both of these, I get so tired of all the ignorance all the time and having to explain, although I’m sure you know the feeling.

    1. daisiesandbruises

      Ugh, I agree x 1000. As time passes I get angrier that there are no jobs out there for those of us with invisible illnesses. I need something small and simple and where I can create my own hours and if I could find that then I’d be the best employee in the world. Yet even job agencies that are supposed to help people like us don’t get things like social anxiety. *sigh*

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  9. Gene

    I’ve been reading through your whole blog since I discovered it yesterday. I can’t believe how often you say things I thought only I felt. I really can’t handle group therapy– I don’t feel comfortable even in groups of people I know well. It means so much to me, though, to hear I’m not the only one who struggles like this. I’ve been going through this mostly alone for 39 years, but just recently starting seeing a therapist I may be able to trust. This post especially resonated with me today as I’m back at work after an absence, and I have to compose my face just-so every time I walk out of my office so that other people will be comfortable. They have no idea what it costs me.

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