Well, you look great!

When I try to talk about my difficulties, I sometimes hear "Well, you look great!" Thank you. I appreciate that I can accomplish not looking as horrible as I feel. Really, I do. And I know that is probably what people mean, but it also makes me feel like you don't believe me. I think there is an underlying assumption that if someone looks good, she must not feel that bad. In the interest of being better understood, here is why I "look great:"

-I am a creative person, a particular type: a dancer. My body doesn't work, so I am a very, very stifled artist. Picking an outfit provides a moment of artistic expression that I can afford.

-Getting dressed is not strenuous and, at this point, most of the people in my family recognize that a grown woman deserves 5-10 minutes of "peace" (AKA screaming at the bottom of the stairs behind the gate asking "WHEN ARE YOU COMING DOWN!) to clothe herself.

-Trapping everyone in a carseat and then sitting in the driver's seat to put on some makeup for 3 minutes helps me to recover from the extreme exertion required for me to get everyone out the door. And, I like to wear makeup.

-And finally, looking like I feel good can help me to enjoy the time I have to be out and about. I'm still extroverted, but being this sick for this long has made me a raw nerve. I have to get out and reenergize. I need all the energy I can get, but I don't know when I may start crying or when some uncomfortable encounter will wear me out for the rest of the day- sometimes the week. Putting on a veneer does help to hide the crumbling that may be going on underneath. Some days, I just want to feel like things are normal and not crumbling and not have to talk about it.  But if I reach out to say to someone that things are hard, I hope to be received as if I look like the death warmed over that I feel like.

I'm sure I am not the only chronically ill person who thinks this way and deals with this. Think about how much pregnant women love to be told how comfortable they look... right? (NOT that pregnancy is an illness. Best not to get me started on that.)


Hello, I'm Jessica. I am a sick person.