When you have a chronic illness that is not visible it’s hard to justify the things you do. MS is one of those diseases that can be very easily seen or it can be a hidden battle. I am fortunate that my illness remains for the most part well hidden. I do use a walker, cane or wheelchair depending on where I am, how much walking is involved or how I feel that day. Other than some leg weakness, my other symptoms remain, for the most part, my little secret. I am glad for that but it does pose a different set of problems. My biggest hidden symptom is chronic fatigue. I also suffer from insomnia which doesn’t help with feeling tired most of the time. Some days I can push through the lethargy and enjoy a somewhat productive day. Other days, I simply can’t summon up any energy to do anything other than get out of bed.
I make plans with friends and try really hard to follow through but some days, I am simply too tired to go anywhere. This is where the need for understanding friends is essential. I need people to know that cancelling plans is not something I do lightly or enjoy. It is not a reflection of them. It is not because I don’t want to spend time with them. It is not because I am lazy. It is literally because I AM TIRED. When I am so exhausted from lack of sleep or MS flare-ups, I just want quiet. I want to be alone because I really am not capable of carrying on an intelligent conversation. I want to be in comfortable clothes just watching Netflix.
The only other thing that ever causes me to change plans is my commitment to my family. When energy is low, I have to save it for the most important people in my life and that is my husband and daughter. They will always come first. Not that I don’t love and value my friends but family is number one.
I use handicapped parking which causes some stares at times; people wondering why a young woman like me needs handicap parking. Again, when you’re not in a wheelchair and symptoms are hidden, it can be hard to justify parking close to the entrance of buildings. However, I know that my legs will only carry me so far so it’s better to park close and save my energy for inside.
I imagine depression and anxiety can be much like what I experience. People can’t see how you feel. They think why can’t that young woman just get out of bed and get out into the sunshine. I know it doesn’t work like that and other people’s perceptions probably make getting well even more difficult.
What hidden health issues do you have to deal with? Feel free to share. Know that this is a safe place. How do you deal with your secrets? Never feel ashamed or embarrassed for whatever you have to do that is best for you! If it means cancelling plans, then do that. If you have to park close to doors, then do that. If you feel like pushing through and going out, then do it. If you want to take a nap, then by all means, do it.
Be Pretty, Plus and Proud and be strong. Your hidden or not so hidden health issues do not define who you are. You don’t have to justify anything to anyone. You are capable of getting through the tough days and good days are waiting for you to enjoy whenever you are ready to step into them. Nobody is walking your journey so do what you have to do that is best for you!
Images courtesy of queenbeefashionista4 from Instagram.