The Parts of My Chronic Illness You Don’t See

(The first time I posted this, it was shared on Medium.com, but I wanted to be sure to get it up on the blog as well.)

It’s easy to be a person on the outside, making assumptions. I get it. I’ve been there and am still there to some extent. We see what’s in front of us and formulate our beliefs based on our observations. It makes logical sense.However, when we judge the surface without understanding what’s going on inside, we fail to grasp the full picture.

Emily and Jonathan
One of the happiest times I had at the beginning of treatment! My boyfriend, Jonathan, came over and we ate dinner on the patio. I was feeling good as the antibiotics and supplements were kicking in right away — still had some physical pain, but was feeling great emotionally! What you don’t see is that just a few days later I was in deep depression and was about to give up on everything. Those who saw the happy picture on social media probably thought I was better, but in reality it was just a small moment of feeling better amidst a sea of hard days.

EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I have other people make observations about how I look and then formulate opinions about how I must feel.

They then go on to tell me how I must be feeling based on my appearance. Some days, they are correct, but a majority of the time my outer shell doesn’t begin to express the pain beneath it.

Because I truly believe that most people are well-meaning, I try to brush it off. But, it’s not that simple. The neurological symptoms of Lyme have left me with crippling anxiety and depression. I get so anxious about what other people will think that I sometimes lie to myself and to them; I tell them I’m feeling well because those are the words they already put in my mouth. I submit to their opinions because I don’t want to be judged for still being sick.

This eats me up inside as I face other guilt because as a person of faith, I believe in honesty. I don’t want to pretend, but it feels like those around me want to put me into a box — a box I cannot seem to escape.

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Emily Lofgren’s heart beats for authenticity. She craves true connection where we can be real about our struggles and find hope together. Emily became a Christian in college and since then has had a passion for writing in a way that helps others encounter life. Grab your free copy of her eBook Finding Hope Through the Fog.