Invisible illness is a daily struggle. Because it’s invisible, it’s often misunderstood and dismissed by people who don’t have the condition. I don’t know how many time, someone tells me that I look good so I must be healed. This couldn’t be further than the truth.

woman-506120_1920Exhaustion is not simply being tired. It’s debilitating. It affects sleep, concentration, pain and energy. Today, I don’t just feel exhausted, I look exhausted. I’ve felt the struggle to stay verticle and functional all week, but today my coworkers are actually noticing. You can see it clearly on my face, in my sunken eyes. My body feels heavy and it’s a struggle to have the energy to do anything.

I’m always in pain, but today, due to overwhelming exhaustion, I’m having more difficulty push through. You can see it in the way I walk and move.

I’ve gotten several comments asking me why I didn’t take a day off. I try to explain that if I were to take a day off every time I felt like I do today, I wouldn’t be at work very often. A manager from another department asked me why I wasn’t taking short term medical leave. I explained that my chronic illness is being treated but it’s incurable. This means that it’s not a short-term issue. I also explained that the government doesn’t see my chronic illness isn’t debilitating enough to be on medical leave and yet, I can’t get insurance anywhere because insurance companies say I’m too ill to cover. She said that my situation is ridiculous and that it doesn’t make sense that I’m not ill enough for medical leave, but too ill for insurance. It should be one or the other. Either my good enough for work and insurance or I’m ill enough to access medical leave.

denied-1936877_1920A manager from another department asked me why I wasn’t taking short term medical leave. I explained that my chronic illness is being treated but it’s incurable. This means that it’s not a short-term issue. I also explained that the government thinks my chronic illness isn’t debilitating enough to be on medical leave and yet, I can’t get insurance anywhere because insurance companies say I’m too ill to cover. She sympathised with me. She said that my situation is ridiculous and that it doesn’t make sense that I’m not ill enough for medical leave, but too ill for insurance. It should be one or the other. Either my good enough for work and insurance or I’m ill enough to access medical leave. Unfortunately, the world isn’t fair.

In a way, I’m happy I don’t look well today. For many, they need to see that you are ill with their own eyes to believe it’s real. Even though they have been aware of my diagnosis since last winter and have seen me struggle years prior to that, it’s not real until it’s visible.