Tuesday, September 15, 2009

You should see my brain

Ah yes, the "But you look so good" dilemma we all experience. I feel like crap but that feeling is invisible (this is National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness week, by the way, so I'm rambling about this). Be sure to check out their website at http://invisibleillnessweek.com because they have some great seminars this week (September 14 - 20).

"How are you?" many ask me.
"Fine," I lie with a bright smile.
"Terrific, I'm glad that you are doing better. I'm glad that (fill in the blank) is working for you. I've been so worried."
Or on the phone they say, "Oh, you sound chipper! I'm so glad you're better. I've been so worried."

Years of training in customer service have taught me how to sound good on the phone regardless of how I feel. Even though I want to strangle the customer I'm smiling as I speak. Years of frightening or worrying my friends and family have taught me to sound positive when answering the "how are you?" question. Years of feeling lousy have taught me not to push my negativity onto others. Years of living with my good, caring husband have taught me that I should be a good, caring person, also (or try to be). Regardless of how I feel.

I saw a button somewhere (and help me find it again if you know where it is) that said something like, "I look good, but you should see my brain!" or "I may not look sick, but you should see my brain."

It's not helpful to tell everyone everything. And dealing with other people's reaction to "I feel like crap" can be just as exhausting. "I'm not strong, I just can't deal with your reaction." We feel that we have to comfort the people who get upset when we are feeling bad. So we filter our responses, we are cautious with our words. It saves relationships, people don't avoid us, people enjoy our company.

And there's nothing wrong with that.

Is there?


  1. Nothing wrong with that at all.


  2. Yes sweetie, there is. Some of us REALLY want to know how you are doing. To those who have their own emotional issues, that's their problem. I do understand that some days it takes too much energy to say "I've had better days", but it takes so much more energy to smile & say"I"m great!". You don't have to explain why you are having a sucky day, & you don't have to comfort anyone. What is ok is to focus on YOU & what ever it takes to get through your day.
    I love you & send you healing light & love!

  3. I hear ya. People rarely take my illness seriously. my dad actually said I don't even need Copaxone (LOL).

  4. My wife suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis and puts on the same brave face as you. She does so for many of the same reasons, but sometimes she comments about how some people complain about the trivial things in their life when others are facing daily pain and suffering.

    That's when I see that there is a limit to the brave face and you sometimes just need to tell others what its like and tell them to stop worrying because it doesn't help either them or you.

  5. I can honestly say I know how you feel. I can also honestly say I wish I didn't.

  6. I'm with you Joan. I almost never tell anyone when I'm feeling poorly, except sometimes very close friends or relatives. You hit the nail on the head...it takes much more energy to complain then to simply smile. When I really want people to know if I feel bad, I'll usually bring the subject up myself.