By Faithann Paslay
I have an invisible chronic illness. I’m lucky if I have enough strength to shower, let alone get out of bed on my worst days. 99 percent of the time you can find me on the couch in my pajamas just relaxing. My bad days outweigh the good most of the time. I can’t control endometriosis or its side effects. I cherish the good days I do get, and when I am feeling OK, I like to have as much fun as possible because I know it’ll soon end.
I like to push my limits, do things I don’t get to do. I like to smile, I like to laugh, I like to do ridiculous things while my pain is tolerable. Why should I feel guilty for that? Why should I apologize for having fun? Why is it OK for people to tell me I’m faking it because I’m actually enjoying myself? Why are people so quick to discredit you, so quick to call you a liar, so quick to judge you?
Some people will never believe you either way. They’ll find anything they can to discredit you and that is truly a sad thing. I didn’t ask for this illness. I’m a human being who just wants to know what it’s like to laugh and to smile without pain. I don’t even know what it feels like to live a day with no pain. To laugh without it hurting my lungs. To smile without it being forced. I get to experience a semi-normal life with tolerable pain one percent of the time. I get to leave the house once a week if I’m lucky.
People think if you have a chronic illness, you aren’t able to do anything. No, that isn’t true. What do you expect us to do? Our life is going to keep going whether we like it or not. We can’t pause it. We have to work to pay our bills. We have to take care of our children. We have to get up every day despite the agonizing pain we might be in and we have to fight through it because, at the end of the day, stuff has to get done.
If I’m having a good day and I want to document it through pictures and post it, I’m instantly looked at as a faker. Because how can someone have that much pain and still go out and have fun? If I’m undergoing a surgery, etc., and I post a picture asking for positive thoughts, I’m looked at as an attention-seeker. How is that fair?
All you’re seeing is a Facebook post. You don’t see me the 99 percent of the time. You don’t see me with bags under my eyes from the lack of sleep I’ve gotten. You don’t see me clinging to my stomach at 2:00 in the morning repeating over and over “please stop the pain, please stop it.” You don’t see me, you don’t know all I go through. Just because you can’t see my actual illness does not mean it’s not real. Because it is.
I have a chronic illness. I shouldn’t have to act a certain way to validate it. I have no cure. I have life with this illness. This illness does not define me. I have goals and dreams I plan to achieve. That I will achieve. I’m human. I’m you.
I’m done apologizing for being sick. I’m done apologizing for laughing out loud and enjoying myself on the good days. I’m done explaining myself to others who can’t comprehend what I go through. I shouldn’t have to prove anything to anyone, and I’m not going to. I am me. I don’t need your pity, your sympathy or your judgments of my life.
To anyone who is struggling like I am and is finding themselves constantly apologizing for every little thing… just stop. Stop letting people get to you, stop letting them define you. Stop letting them control how you are supposed to act. You are human, you have a life and you deserve to say how you want to live it. We are still capable of anything. We are the brave ones, we are the warriors. Don’t spend your good days trying to justify your life or your actions to strangers. Don’t let them be the judge and jury to your life. We got this, we know the pain we feel, we know how badly we wish to have good days, we know how it feels to want to celebrate them while you can, we know how we feel. Stay strong beautiful, we got this. No more guilt, apologies or validation needed. We got this.