But you don’t look sick

N.B: Mainly from a Severe M.E sufferer’s perspective. Might be a little bit biased towards that but most of the point still stands due to the fluctuating-ness of M.E. Enjoy your read!

Ah, the famous phrase that annoys many people with chronic illness. In fact, with most cases (from what I’m aware of in the M.E community, although I’m sure it’s the same in the others), we’ve gotten so used to hearing that we don’t bother wasting precious energy getting frustrated. The person who says that is a lost cause until we can muster the energy to educate them.

I’ve read a couple of articles today about life with chronic illness (dealing with daily life/hospitals and still trying to look your best, even when you really don’t feel it) which has sparked the inspiration to write about it. I’ve recently gotten into wearing make up more often, it makes me feel good and I enjoy wearing it. The only issue I encountered was that when I had put some pretty eye shadow on – you couldn’t really see it due to my glasses – I wanted to show it off. The problem with that is I have massive bags under my eyes from my body being constantly exhausted, so taking off my glasses ruins any illusion of the pretty make up (in my mind). I looked into buying a concealer – hoping it’d do some magic – and with the help of a lovely lady at a make up desk, I have a new concealer that matches my skin tone and makes me look a lot more well, giving confidence in myself.

The issue with that, though (if you’re around people who don’t quite understand), they think you’re either doing well or aren’t actually as ill anymore (and in some cases decide to accuse you of faking it), because you look a lot brighter in the face. I had this the other day, I put my trusty concealer on (wearing glasses this time) and the person goes “You’re looking well!”. Cue the inner groan and trying to hold back a sarcastic comment.

It leaves you feeling quite conflicted. On the one hand you might want to get rid of the signs in your face that say you’re chronically ill, but on the other there’s a sense of wanting to prove you are actually unwell. Again, I feel this is mainly an M.E thing (though I’m probably wrong) due to it being so misunderstood and passed off as “it’s all in your head”. You never want to be your illness, but when someone makes a comment like that (I honestly don’t know what they’re trying to achieve. It doesn’t work as a compliment because what was I like the other times you’ve seen me?! If it’s meant as something to make me feel better, that doesn’t work either!) you (or at least I do) feel like you need to list off as many reasons as to why you’re not okay, but in the end you know that won’t help the situation much.

The same person said to me that they thought I could do driving lessons, based on how well I was doing an activity. This time my retort came out of its own accord, “Oh really? What makes you think that?”. They promptly explained their reason (which, as they only see me for a short time, I suppose it was a valid one) to which the sarcasm and annoyance came back out, “I don’t do anything for a week until I come back here, I physically can’t.” (I neglected to mention that the day after doing said activity, I don’t actually get dressed or really talk to anyone). They go silent and move on to other things, which is quite a common response.

It’s something I never really considered before (and as I’ve said it’s probably just me and a few others who I speak to) until seeing these articles. I admire chronically ill people who still go out of their way to look as fabulous as they can, even though on the underneath they probably are dealing with a lot. If it gives you confidence and makes you feel slightly better about your situation, then that’s great!

The main point of this rather rambly post is that there is definitely a conflicting feeling when you wear some kind of cover up make up – even if it’s just for one day a week or something like that. Some people don’t like to look ill and some people accept it, but on the off-chance that you do wear some form of cover up, there will always be someone who will comment on it. Which I think is rather unfair, they see you for [insert amount of time] and suddenly think that oh yes, actually you can do such and such because today you’re looking okay. The reality of that being that after they’ve left, you’re exhausted and would probably like to sleep for a while.

I’ve only touched on the make up aspect of this – there is so much more to it – but as I don’t think I’ve done this nearly enough justice, I’ll leave it for another day! I hope this did make some sense and maybe opened your eyes a bit to the quite confusing world of M.E.

On that note, I shall leave you to it! Thank you for reading this rather lengthy post!
See you soon,
Jess x


One thought on “But you don’t look sick

  1. Oh Jess this is such a good post! I totally agree with you and understand how frustrating it is that people’s uneducated (as far as your illness is concerned) comments make you question putting make up on! it’s sad that the confidence you gain from using pretty make up is lost by misplaced and uninformed opinions. maybe we should design pretty ear plugs so you can’t hear them? I’ve got lots of Liberty fabric to use up. 🙂

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