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Monday, September 12, 2016

Smiling on the outside, broken on the inside

The knowing looks, hushed remarks and unspoken judgements - this is the reality of living with an invisible illness.

As many of my followers will know, I have arthritis and have had it since I was in college, so I'm used to the questions, queries and funny looks, because like many others with an invisible illness, it is very hard for someone on the outside looking in, to know that there is something 'wrong' with me.

Recently, I was out while my condition was flaring up and as often happens when I am stressed or going through something, I was in a good deal of pain.

To cope with this pain, I had been taking a number of tablets, which of course no one would know to look at me, but towards the end of the day, I decided I needed something more and I put on a pain patch.

As it was a hot day and I was wearing a dress, it was difficult to put the patch on somewhere inconspicuous, as it wouldn't stay put, so I opted for putting in on my wrist (it works better on smaller joints) and secured it with my watch.

Even though it just looks like a bandage, there were funny looks when I was in the supermarket, little whispered comments when I got into my car and questions from those who knew me, about what it was.

Now, while I don't mind and in fact, welcome questions about my disease, as I think that  knowledge is the answer to all ignorance and unfair judgement in most situations, I don't like it when people make assumptions or judge me because of one tiny thing.

I am also well aware that within the realm of invisible illnesses, there are people out there who have much more serious problems than I have and they are not just hiding a pain patch or a wrist support, but instead tubes, bandages, cathaters and much more.

One thing people often say to me is that I'm always smiling (firstly, this isn't true sadly, I get fierce cranky - particularly if I haven't eaten in a while or things aren't going the way they should), but just remember that if I'm out and about, smiling and going about my business, I'm having a good day.

When I'm having a bad arthritis day, you won't see me smiling, because you won't see me at all - I will be in bed, in agony, doing everything I can to simply go through the motions and get through the day.

My main point here with this blog post is not to make people feel bad or to point the finger at anyone, but to merely get people to stop and take a minute before they make a snap judgement, whisper a snide remark or shoot someone a dirty look.

You don't know what people are going through and as Bob Dylan's grandmother once advised him;  "Be kind, because everyone you'll ever meet is fighting a hard battle."

Sound advice if you ask me and as Bob Dylan's granny, I imagine she was a pretty cool lady to be honest. 

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