Paradox of Feeling Bad, but Looking Good
by Wayne and Sherri
Connell, Copyright ©2004 The
Invisible Disabilities Advocate
article contains excerpts from the booklet
But You LOOK Good: A Guide to Understanding and Encouraging
People with Chronic, Debilitating Illness and Pain!
more than 125 million Americans have at least one chronic condition.
Nearly half have more than one. An illness or injury is considered
chronic, when it lasts a year or longer, limits activity and may
require ongoing care.
with a chronic illness has the same symptoms or degree of symptoms.
Some have mild complications and with a little adjustment in their
diets or schedules, they can lead a pretty normal
life. Some have to make bigger changes, sacrificing various activities
or their work situations in order to contend with their conditions.
Others become so ill they are unable to work at all and struggle
just to meet lifes daily needs.
every one of us has experienced being so sick we had to stay home
from work or school, because we were too sick to go. We hate being
sick, because the time ticks by, the work piles up and we cannot
do anything about it. We gripe and moan that we dont
have time to be sick! even when it has only been a few hours.
It is just plain miserable to be sick, in pain and debilitated
- nobody enjoys it.
we come across someone who says they have been sick and in pain
for a long time, we might think they are either exaggerating or
they are not doing something about it. After all, when we got
sick, we got some rest, took some medication and were soon back
on our feet. Moreover, when we were sick, we were pale and droopy,
but they often look perfectly normal.
is, most chronic conditions cannot be seen with the naked eye,
but nevertheless are persistently keeping the person from enjoying
life the way they once knew. For instance, a person can battle
extreme fatigue, even though they may appear healthy and well.
Just the same, a person can have spinal damage and excruciating
pain, despite the fact that to the onlooker the may look strong
grievance those with chronic conditions have is that their loved
ones often do not believe what they are going through is real,
because to others they look good. Sadly, this makes
the person feel as if they are being called a liar or a wimp.
This can cause great strains on relationships between friends,
family members and spouses. Ironically, those with chronic conditions
would like nothing more than to gain complete control of their
lives and not have to adjust to any limitations at all! Nonetheless,
their bodies do not always cooperate with their desires, no matter
how much they want it to.
a travesty occurs when the person not only has to contend with
no longer being able to do what they love to do, but also has
to battle for their loved ones belief, respect and understanding.
While the person with the illness/pain is mourning their loss
of ability and freedom, others often accuse them of just being
lazy or malingering.
We must resist
the temptation to make a visual diagnosis by coming to the conclusion
that our loved one must be embellishing their situation or trying
to pull the wool over our eyes, because to us they look
fine. After all, when we rebut what they are telling us
with, "But you LOOK good," our friend really hears,
"But, I dont believe you, because I cant see
is impossible for us to be compassionate, until we have acknowledged
there is a situation for which to be compassionate! In other words,
how can we say, I am sorry you are sick, when we are
always saying, I do not believe you are sick, because you
dont look sick?
chronic conditions do not want to give up! They make efforts to
laugh, smile, look their best and enjoy life, even though they
know they will pay dearly for it. Because of this, we should not
confuse their endeavors to live life and be positive, with assuming
they are feeling well or doing better. Instead, let us commend
them for their incredible courage, perseverance and persistence
that make their painful disabilities seem invisible to us.
article is an excerpt of the booklet But
You LOOK Good: A Guide to Understanding and Encouraging People
with Chronic, Debilitating Illness and Pain!
explains how a person can be damaged by an illness and/or injury
on the inside, but still look fine to others on the
outside. It gives detailed suggestions of what not to say
and explanations as to why. In addition, the booklet provides
many examples of what to say to be an encouragement
and offers practical ways to help.
information and to read more articles written by Sherri, visit
The Invisible Disabilities Advocate at: www.InvisibleDisabilities.com
IDA for permission to distribute or publish this article.