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Articles > Life September, 07, 2020

Invisible disabilities and being judged

Elizabeth Watson
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Living with fibromyalgia is not easy, but the hardest part is dealing with the opinions of others…

Early on at university I had to leave employment as I was physically unable to work alongside my university course and the placement I was to undertake. I am very lucky that my immediate family have supported me from day one but I haven’t had the best luck with friends understanding. My sister had paid for me and her to go on a couple of meals out over a weekend and we had had a great time. Naturally I had posted selfies of us having fun on social media which resulted in a ‘so called friend’ asking me ‘how can you afford to go out, I have a job and I cant even afford it’. I was so embarrassed and explained that I was lucky that my parents and sister treated me as they understand it isn’t my fault that I can’t be working now. This really hurt and looking back I wish I hadn’t let her get away with saying that.

A few years later a different group of ‘so-called friends’ messaged me and essentially had a go at me saying that I ‘claim to be in too much pain’ to go out with them but every time they go on social media they see me going out and having a good time. What they didn’t realise was that I only post the good photos they don’t see that I had to spend a week in bed after going to a nightclub for a couple of hours, or that when I was at said club I spent the few hours I was there sat down drinking water!

Why do people have the right to judge me and what I do? I show the positives on social media because no one wants to see the negatives and I don’t want to show them! Having an invisible illness is so hard because you get judged for everything, if you are having a good day you are judged because you must be fine and if you’re having a bad day, you’re just a drama queen. I may look well but if you could see the excruciating pain that I am in, you wouldn’t criticise me for missing a night out, or for going to bed at 6 in the evening and waking at 7 in the morning.

I don’t think people understand this isn’t a choice but my attitude towards life is. I am no longer trying to justify myself to anyone and I am much happier. You don’t need to be able to justify every decision, or life choice you make to the people around you. Life is short so do what makes you happy, and don’t judge others for doing the same. You cannot tell what people are going through just by looking at them so please think twice before you criticise someone, you’re probably only seeing half of the story.

 


Thanks so much Elizabeth for writing this article! For more information about fibromyalgia, you can read the NHS overview here. You can also read more about it on the UK fibromyalgia website here.


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