The Complexities of Chronic Illness: Sick Days

There are a lot of pieces and parts to living with a chronic illness that aren’t always explained.  Sure, my “About Me” covers the general idea of what I go through on a day to day basis, but there’s a lot more than that.

Most people expect those with chronic illness to look “sick.”

Having symptoms of sickness every single day is definitely not an easy task.  Especially since I appear to be “normal” and healthy.  I don’t look sick and I’m fortunately able to do almost all activities as a healthy person. But, one of the hardest parts of chronic illness is when you come down with a typical sickness.

See, my body doesn’t process viruses and infections as well as someone without a chronic illness might.  It takes me a while to recover from something as slight as the common cold.  Sometimes requiring me to take off multiple days, which makes working difficult.

But that’s not the difficult part.  The hard part is the mental game that always comes along with it.  Am I really sick or is it just my “usual” illness’ symptoms?

The Real Battle with Chronic Illness

When I first came down with my autoimmune disorders, I missed 45 days of 7th grade.  That’s right–45 days. Because of that number being so high, there were a lot of people who needed convincing that I was actually sick.  And furthermore, a lot of people thinking that I was faking it (middle school’s rough, you know).

 It took my parents a while, as I had a history of wanting to stay home from school.  The school nurses often ran me through a million questions.  So many questions, that eventually my mom had to call and have a note placed in my permanent file that I should just come home if I showed up in the clinic.

Friendships were ruined over people thinking that I just didn’t want to hang out with them and that I used being sick as an excuse.

After a while, everyone questioning your health and acting like you’re a hypochrondriac begins to play with your mind.  Am I really sick? Should I push myself to go to work? Is it really necessary that I visit the doctor?

Unless you have a chronic illness of your own, this may be difficult to understand.

 I literally get anxiety any time that I have to take off of work or cancel plans, because I get worried that people won’t believe me.  I’ve had so many people doubt me throughout the years that I begin to doubt myself, even though I’m probably more in tune with my body than most.  I need to be reassured that I am in fact sick and that it’s okay to take time to rest and heal. And it gets very frustrating.

I never know whether I need to explain to everyone I come in contact with that I battle with a chronic illness.  I never know if that will make things more understandable or believable to co-workers, bosses, or friends and family.

So, if you struggle with chronic illness as well–I feel you.  And if you don’t, just remember that so many people are fighting battles you know nothing about.


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