The Ugly Truth

In my experience, people with chronic illness tend to hide or withhold certain aspects of our conditions from others. Be it friends, co-workers, spouses, children, even our doctors. This is not a smart choice, especially hiding it from our doctors. The more aware the people in our lives become, the more understanding they will be, and we can stop the feelings of guilt and shame. We don’t need this extra weight on our minds. We are dealing with enough. I admit that due to constant nausea from migraines and medication, I sleep with a bucket next to my bed. If I have to make it to the bathroom quickly, the pain in my legs, hips, and lower back will prevent me from making it in time. The same goes for car trips. I keep plastic bags in the door, just in case. When out in public, which I’ve come to dread, people wearing perfume or cologne are enough to cause instant nausea and vomiting. I’ve taken to carrying a medical face mask in my purse. Noise levels are often an issue, so I carry headphones. For bright lights, I’ve usually got my sunglasses on inside and I carry a baseball cap too. All of these preventive measures bring unwanted attention on me, but I have to put myself and my sanity first. To anyone who questions me, I’ve decided to make it a teaching moment and explain my symptoms and what these outside influences do to me. People for the most part are polite. There are always a few that will just never get it. Forget them! Not worth it! Like many chronic migraneurs and chronic pain sufferers, I also contend with depression and anxiety. I may start sobbing for seemingly no reason. I have random panic attacks. Tissues and anti-anxiety meds are always in my purse. These issues are just another component of our illnesses. Much like an asthmatic with an inhaler, a diabetic with insulin, a blind person with a guide dog, we have and need our coping tools. We have no reason to hide them or be ashamed. It is what it is.

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