To those who suffer with a chronic illness: It’s okay to give yourself a break

To those who suffer with a chronic illness: It’s okay to give yourself a break.

It’s okay to give in to the pain. It’s okay to rest your head on the pillow and sleep the fatigue away. And it’s certainly okay to think about your health, instead of what other people think of your health.

Ignore those people who don’t understand.

The people who call you lazy because your body is so weak that you can’t function properly.

The people who say to eat better when your stomach is in so much agony that it causes blood from places that aren’t supposed to bleed.

The people who say ‘There’s people worse off’ because they believe that because your illness is invisible, it ‘can’t be that bad’.

Because they don’t understand.

They don’t understand what it’s like to suffer daily with symptoms that only you know are there.

They don’t know what it’s like for nobody to offer you their seat on the train because they can’t see that you are in crippling pain, nor do they know that your invisible disability qualifies for that priority seat

They don’t understand that you didn’t use the disabled loo for extra privacy or to get changed and do your makeup. When they look at you in disgust and call you selfish as a wheelchair user sits nearby, and you feel guilty just because they can’t see what’s wrong with you.

They don’t understand how hard you push yourself, simply in order not to upset those who are so deeply offended by your disability.

So why bother?

Why feel bad about your chronic illness?

You take that extra long nap if it’s going to make you feel better. You tell that person that says there’s others ‘worse off’ just how ignorant they are.

You tell that unknowing train passenger how much it hurts to stand. You glare right back at the person waiting near the disabled toilets.

And if you need to take time out to recover from your downfall with chronic illness, you damn well do it.

You don’t need to feel bad about your illness being invisible.

You don’t need to let anyone make you feel bad for looking after yourself and knowing what’s best.

You don’t need to prove you are ill to anyone who doesn’t believe you.

And you do NOT need to put others’ opinions before the safety and well-being of yourself.

Look after yourself when you need to. Your body will appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

Words by Hattie Gladwell

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