Silently Suffering: The Stigma Of Living With An Invisible Illness

If you have a chronic illness that is not Cancer, you have probably gotten extremely skillful at hiding your pain and your struggle. It seems that the only acceptable illness is Cancer. Understand, I am not downplaying the gravity of Cancer nor the effects it can have on a person.  I have witnessed firsthand the destructive nature of Cancer. I watched my mom fight Cancer like a champ, up until her last day, she fought and Cancer didn’t win.  However, for those of us who don’t have Cancer but are battling chronic conditions, its hard out here in these streets, especially if you have an Invisible Illness!


I have Endometriosis and with it comes pain, complications, other conditions, and so much more. I have been battling this illness for 18 years and through my journey, I have learned to just keep things to myself, definitely in the last 5 years. I believe that when you are ill but you look as normal as the next person, people struggle to accept the validity of your disease. There is something deeply hurtful about being dismissed as dramatic when you are truly suffering. When those closest to you focus solely on your appearance and become blind to your challenges. Because of this women like me have learned to live in isolation. We have families, friends, coworkers, etc; but we are virtually alone. Isolation isn’t our preference it has become our refuge. It is where we go to cry, feel pain, and silence the voices of the naysayers and the advice crew. You know those people who say, “if you just get out you will feel better,” or the ones who ask you, “do you even want to get well?” I am always amazed that people who can’t even spell Endometriosis have so many remedies and cures for it.  


Endometriosis is not a disease that we caused, it is something that for unknown reasons chose to invade our bodies and wreak havoc upon everything connected to us. I guarntee you that there are a million ways to get attention and I promise you that nobody would pick Endo as their weapon of choice. Isolation is unhealthy, it takes a toll on your mental health which affects your physical well-being. Endometriosis responds to stress and any emotional movement. Because of this, I have had to find ways to come out of the isolation, share my struggles, and seek support. The key to emerging from isolation and finding a safe space to dwell within is to find people who will authentically be there for you. 


You will know your tribe because they will seek to educate themselves about Endometriosis, they will be the ones who go to your appointments and ask questions, and they will be the ones who can see YOU. These are the people who will hear your silent cries for help. These are the people who will only look down on you when they have to pick you up off the floor. These are the people who will love you even when you don’t love yourself. So, if you find yourself hiding your struggles because those around you have become desensitized to your plight or they don’t have the ability to adequately support you, I encourage you not to isolate but to find those who are willing to be there for you.  Look within the Endometriosis Community and find your sisterhood, nobody understands life with Endometriosis more than a woman who is living with it. Onward

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