Jasmine was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at 10 years old. Here she discusses the impact of living with an illness that is considered invisible.
93-95% of disabilities are invisible. When you look at me, you wouldn’t assume I was sick. You’d likely think I was fine. For us with an invisible illness, we could be going to school, college, or work all while managing an illness and no one would know!
At my worst I was still working full time. To all the healthy people around me, I looked fine and managed to hide how unwell I was. I continued to do my job while being too weak to stand in the shower. Every so often I would get a shock of pain firing through body; I’d clench my chair or desk to keep from collapsing. When that failed, I would lock myself in a bathroom stall, bracing myself against a wall or curling up on the floor and screaming into my hands. I was hellbent on keeping my health a secret. I found myself constantly stressed about organizing my life around bathroom access. Terrified of being caught out, I couldn’t be more than 90 seconds from a toilet and saw blood in the toilet bowl every time.
In a hell Mary attempt to get my Crohn’s under control I was starving myself. Making my body weaker and weaker. I dreaded the moment someone would ask if I wanted to join them for a drink or go for something to eat after work. So made up a silly excuse because I knew, if I went with them something would happen and they’d find out. When it came to leaving the office I wouldn’t dare walk to the parking lot with my coworkers; too afraid I’d pass out on the 15 min drive home. Instead I pushed two chairs together in the break room to lie down in the dark. Grasping at the last scraps of strength to get me home. Living in constant fear of my own body.
And at the time I thought I was doing fine. Seriously. Looking back now it’s crazy to think I went on like this for months. But I love my job. I was functioning on the surface, and although I knew I wasn’t well, I convinced myself I was well enough to carry on. I was in survival mode. At the time I thought suffering was just an inevitable constant that hadn’t yet stopped me from my day-to-day. But this is not normal! I will no longer accept barely surviving. I will listen to my body and do what it takes to truly live.
If any of this sounds familiar I will tell you what someone should have told me. YOU ARE NOT OKAY. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Get help because your life is more important than your job. You deserve to live, not just survive. I wish I had realized this before my body forced me to. Only after breaking down completely did I see clearly. I’m still in survival mode, but now I’m focused on building a life where I am thriving. It’s hard to remember what that even feels like. To have the patience, grace, and grit to keep going through this recovery. But I have to have faith it will be worth it in the end.
Follow Jasmine on Instagram here: