I’m often told how “good” I look. Under normal circumstances, I’d love it because I admit it, I take pride in my appearance. I’m a clothes horse. I love a new pair of shoes. I like to look good. I put some effort into it. I do my hair and make up every day not matter how I feel.
On the scale of high maintenance, I’m not the highest, but I admit that I’m probably somewhere on the scale. I’m okay with that. I know it’s superficial but it’s part of who I am. I was taught that looking good helps you feel good. And, I believe there is some truth to that because on a bad sarcoidosis day, it helps me mentally to spruce myself up a bit. Maybe I don’t go all out on a bad day but I do avoid sweatpants like the plague and I will put on a little blush. These are the things that help me feel human.
But those of us with “invisible” chronic conditions are often told we look much better than we feel and we sometimes feel like being told we look good isn’t a compliment. We hear it as a dismissal of our disease.
Perhaps when you’re someone like me, who does put in the effort to look good, it can be confusing for the average Joe or Jane to understand what lies beneath the surface of my carefully crafted exterior. I understand that and I accept it.
But it begs the question…why should I have to “look” sick to be sick and why should I not be allowed the same opportunities to look my best as anyone else? I shouldn’t have to feel like I don’t have the right to look my best in order to “prove” that I’m sick. Why should I relegate myself to playing the part of a sick person just so what is happening to me can make sense to someone who judges the surface of what they see?
So, I might look good and that might be confusing for some people but I won’t apologize for it and I won’t change the way I take care of myself to appease their mixed up small mindedness.
Chronic illness does not discriminate. It does not care what we look like. It has no face and the reality is that no one really knows what lies beneath.