Sorry that I don’t look sick enough for you

how-tell-mentally-ill-1Something that never fails to annoy me is that when you have an invisible illness, such as a mental illness, that people don’t believe that you’re actually sick. You look healthy. You have color in your cheeks, you’re mobile, you’re alert, etc. So what the fuck is wrong with you? Walk with a limp if you want people to know that you’re ill!

It’s all too easy to paint everyone as a hypochondriac, making up problems that they researched on the internet, whenever they state that they have an illness that no one can see. There’s no physical proof, so how do you know that there is any issue at all?

People wonder why the mentally ill cut themselves. Although there are varied and complex reasons for this, one of them is because it’s a physical representation of how much pain that you’re in. People can argue about invisible wounds, but when you have them on your body, it suddenly takes on new depth and meaning. Of course, some people wouldn’t need to do this if others would recognize that you can be in a lot of pain without having a physical wound.

Mental illness and other kinds of problems that don’t show up on your skin are just as difficult and exhausting to fight as physical sickness. Treating a sick person like they’re just too lazy or not intelligent enough to get over an illness is as cruel as demanding a person with a broken foot walk a mile to the emergency room. Just because you can’t see the problem doesn’t mean that there isn’t one.

It’s difficult for people who have never suffered through a mental illness or seen someone close to them suffer, to grasp just how devastating these episodes can be. Some people are happy to think that if they’ve never experienced something then there’s nothing to experience. But the truth is that mental illness is very real and very dangerous.

Even if you’re pretty sure that someone is being a hypochondriac, it’s always better to believe a false alarm then to ignore someone who is in real trouble. Compassion and understanding are needed to help sick people. Just because they don’t look sick, doesn’t mean that they’re fine.