Just because my pain isn’t visible, it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
I’m tired of people not taking me seriously and by me, I mean my pain, my journey and the suffering I’ve endured throughout my life. I don’t need pity or sympathy, instead what I’d like is to be heard. Often, it can feel like I’m banging against a glass jar – trapped in intense pain and feelings of being misunderstood. It’s far too easy for people to look at me and make judgements on how my life appears to be, than to spend the time getting to know me and offering compassion. This has happened time and time again, but guys, it really must stop.
I’m not writing this post to garner support and pity, or have a thousand people convey their thoughts and prayers towards me. I’m writing this to be heard, to be understood and to communicate the frustration of never being taken seriously because of how “well put together” I appear because let’s be honest, I’ve become a master of that. I’m writing this post to speak up for the countless individuals who are fighting unimaginable battles that no one can see. Whether that’s in the mind or other illnesses (such as Crohns or ME) that aren’t as obvious as broken legs or cancer, we matter and our story is worth hearing. Over the years, people have told me how grateful I should be for having a roof over my head, food on my plate and a life that so many have dreamed of. People have often told me that other people have been through far worse so what in the world do I have to be sad about?!
Whilst that’s all well and good helps with gaining some perspective, the act of comparison does nothing but shame me and so many others into keeping quiet and facing our battles alone. I’ve found that during my short life thus far, very few take into account the battles I’ve faced and the strength I’ve had to muster time and time again to face demons like no other. I might not be deaf, blind or paralysed, but my pain is my own. No one has stopped to think that maybe, just maybe I suffer too and just because I’ve not lost a parent or suffered an incurable disease, that doesn’t mean I’ve not faced some difficult challenges during the course of my life. It’s easy to look at me and see a high-flying 28 year-old with a good job, a loving family and a nice home. But, looks can be deceiving. The old saying of “never judge a book by its cover” applies to my life and countless others all over the world.
I’ve often been told how resilient I am, how quickly I bounce back from setbacks but that’s premature in a way because most people don’t know how I feel when I turn in for the day, they don’t know how much effort I’m putting in just to keep one foot in front of the other and they certainly don’t know about the chatter inside my head. I make living look easy sometimes, but my feelings are far from that. There are days when I have to gather every ounce of energy I have, to get up and face the day.
There are days where I’ll cry uncontrollably on the kitchen floor and there are days where I see no alternative but to overdose on a concoction of pills. But you see, the thing is, it’s far easier for people to make comments on the visible and compare hidden illnesses to something they can witness. It’s simpler to bury heads in the sand.
Rather than taking the time to understand one another, why is it so easy for us as humans to jump to conclusions without knowing the full story? In an age where everything is about ourselves and how we can live our most fulfilling life, we’ve lost compassion for others. We’ve lost the ability to truly connect, to share in grief and sorrow – blocking ourselves from feeling anything for our neighbours. In an era of “me too”, why is it so hard to widen our circle of compassion to include the notion of “you too” so that we are able to appreciate that other people are also struggling? Why not validate someone else’s feelings instead of comparing it to your pain and diminishing it? I’ll tell you why, it’s because in a society that relies on smartphones to do everything for us and enables communication through technology, we have become less patient and increasingly selfish. It’s become easier to block someone, ignore them or fail to reach out because of how little patience we have – for ourselves but more importantly, for the struggles of others. I often question why it’s so hard for people to show up instead of turning away and focusing on one’s own self? I don’t have all the answers, but I know that visibility is a strong part of it. What people can’t see, doesn’t hurt them and therefore makes it non-existent. I’m not visibly struggling so therefore it’s easier to assume I’m not. There’s an aspect of fear and avoidance at play too.
Life is short and pain is inevitable so why not live in harmony with one another? Why not help alleviate the suffering of a loved one or friend? Why not show up for someone you care about whether they express their feelings or not? If that feels too hard, start with yourself. Charity begins at home, and only with compassion for yourself can you have empathy and understanding for another.
Living to fly another day,
The Confused Butterfly
Disclaimer: The contents of this website are intended for educational purposes only. Nothing found on this site should be a substitute for professional medical advice nor is it a substitute for therapy. Therefore, please seek the advice of a Doctor or Mental Health Practitioner if you have any concerns about your wellbeing. These views are personal to me and are in no way a representation of other individuals or organisations.