This is the last video in this series where I talk about Youtube videos that have inspired me. Once again, this is a video from Simon and Martina’s channel, a couple who vlog about their life in Asia. Martina suffers from a chronic illness called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which affects her connective tissues and causes her joints to loosen. In this video, her husband Simon talks about her struggles dealing with chronic pain even though she looks perfectly healthy from the outside. This is what is described as an “invisible illness.” Examples of this form of illness include lupus, multiple sclerosis, migraines, and of course, what I have, anxiety and depression. Lastly, Simon goes on to talk about how Martina often can’t stand too long on the subway and has to sit in the priority seating. She felt immense guilt because “outwardly” she didn’t look like someone that needed them.
I had never really heard of the term “invisible illness” before, but connected to some of the feelings that Simon shared about Martina in the video. Before I started to “come out” about my mental illness, I felt almost like an undercover agent. I thought that since my illness was “invisible” in some ways, I hid it from everyone except close family and friends. In fact, at that time, I thought it was an asset, because I wasn’t ready to deal with the stigma. However, over time, it became a burden because one lie (ex. I have a eye doctor appointment, when I really had a psychiatry appointment) often led to more. Moreover, let’s not forget the shame that comes along with any sort of dishonesty.
I also connected with her guilt of having to “take that priority seat” because of her illness. In my life, I have also chosen to work part-time and often don’t take on extra responsibilities at work due to the extra stress. This usually leads me think that my co-workers must think I’m lazy. I really want to tell them though that I am working at 100%, just to stay working despite my mental illness. Over the years, telling others my condition has helped me alleviate some of this guilt. However, you really don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want though. Instead, I want to tell others not to judge someone so quickly, as oftentimes, you have no idea what might be hiding behind their smile.