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Just Because I’m Wearing Makeup Doesn’t Mean ‘I’m Better’ #ButYouDontLookSick

Just Because I’m Wearing Makeup Doesn’t Mean ‘I’m Better’ #ButYouDontLookSick

If there’s one thing a chronically ill person does not want to hear, it’s “Well, you don’t look sick.”

I don’t know if I should take this as a compliment because I look good (or passable for alive), or if I should be crimson in the face with anger because my Endo isn’t being taken seriously. Family, friends, or even a doctor, and co-workers make comments about how I look good, tilting their head, like a curious bird before squawking the words, “But, I thought you said you were sick. I guess it only shows up sometimes right?”

Or my other favorite: “You were out sick the other day, but today you’re working out, so you’re really feeling better then.” And let’s not forget this one: “ If you can go to work and exercise, and then go shopping, you must not really be that ill.”

Even people suffering from common ailments such as the flu can have a better day sandwiched in between all of the bad ones.

Am I supposed to have prison pallor for the rest of my life because I decided to put on a little bit of lip gloss and concealer because it makes me look a step above a cadaver?

As a preschool teacher of 12 years, my job doesn’t really require me to dress up past “crayon casual.” Most of the time, my clothing is stained with a rainbow of hues, consisting of paint, oil, and whatever else one of my loving students decide to leave on my pants and/or shirt. Sometimes, I’m required to dress semi-human for a special occasion, like a “Back-to-School” night or a “Parent-Teacher Conference” night.

Makeup, despite what most think, is more than a tool to hide raccoon eyes or cover up a zit that appeared out of nowhere. Makeup is about feelings. Think about it – how do you feel when you’re wearing makeup.

When I apply that fantastic, bold red lipstick I just bought, it makes me feel better in every aspect. Until I hear someone shout, “You don’t look sick,” that is.

Fifteen years ago, when my Endo was at its height of torture, I went in for emergency surgery.

Apparently, my kidneys and my ovaries, hate me. My body, I was told, produced kidney stones for absolutely no reason, at all. I was in the ER and they did a CT scan only to find five stones in each kidney. My doctor also let on that my Endo was in there fucking the place up. But he’s a urologist and he said he could only take care of his area of expertise.

After my surgery, I called my boss to tell her I’d had emergency surgery and that I would be out for two weeks. I never heard anything back, though I wasn’t surprised.

I’ve been told I was a hypochondriac and to get over my period cramps before, so their unconcern didn’t faze me.

And yet, I still felt guilty, which caused me to go back to work way too early.

As I spent my day running around after 15 three-year-olds, one of my co-workers saw me and waved me over.

“You look so well-rested! How was your vacation?”

I just let out a little laugh and said “That’s funny,” thinking she was making a joke. She wasn’t joking; she was serious.

No one told anyone that I was out due to emergency surgery. No one noticed how I clutched the wall when I walked or how heavily I breathed when climbing up three flights of stairs, multiple times a day.

I bled through my pad, underwear, and to my jeans, thanks to the stent in my urethra (and my usual Endometriosis hemorrhaging).

Should I have gone in sans makeup? Maybe I should have smeared black-and-blue eyeliner across my body so that I’d look how I actually felt.

I told her I had emergency surgery and her response was: “Well, you look great you don’t look sick at all!”

Should I be flattered that I did a job well done with my makeup? That I was able to hide the layers of pain, tears, and the sheer feeling of wanting to get the day over with, so I could go home and sob in my pillow? I wasn’t being taken seriously because I looked human.

Because if you look good, there is no possible way your pain is real…right?

If you’ve ever been treated this way, you’re not alone. I wish I could say our sad club only had a few members. But, there is an upside to having Endo – you aren’t alone.

You’re not crazy. Even when your sister tells you to stop moping or your boss hints that your job is in jeopardy. You know, because of all of those sick days.

My advice? Fuck them. 

Keep taking selfies when you look good, but feel like shit. Show off that flawless winged eyeliner that took you an hour to do because you were shaking with pain. Smile after you’ve wiped tears from your eyes.

You are everything good in this world. You are more than your pain and you’ve got this. WE’VE GOT THIS.

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  • THIS!
    I got this when I tried to return to work post op I also got it for trying to be cheerful with my colleagues “She obviously wasn’t that sick if she’s that cheerful”, and 6 days later I was back off sick because I pushed myself trying to keep up with everyone and ended up exacerbating my surgical emphysema and not being able to breathe.

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