Lauren's Looks

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Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Dear Diary... Let's have a catch up | Life with a chronic illness, the struggles you don't know about

Thanks to the power of makeup, and my rather convincing acting skills, I often feel as though I lead a completely different life to what others may imagine. There's my 'online life', which is often saturated with prosecco, tight bodycon dresses, and countless cupcake snaps- giving the impression that I lead a ladies who lunch lifestyle- and then there's my 'real life', the far less glamorous of the two, where I spent the majority of the week stuck at home looking AND feeling a state.

But what exactly does the reality of my 'real life' entail?... Fatigue so crippling that I struggle to even talk and move, pain; in my legs, arms, head and stomach, intense dizziness, heart palpitations, a constant flu like sensation, and brain fog so profound that I'm often left unable to concentrate and remember things. All of which occur on a daily basis, meaning that getting out of bed each morning is a huge struggle. 

The funny thing is I never did like drama at school- both the playground type, and the subject- but yet here I am acting near enough daily. Acting like I feel well, when really I feel like I'm on the brink of crashing to the floor like a ton of bricks. Acting like feeling devoid of all energy doesn't ever wear me down. Acting like not being able to lead a 'normal life' which involves a 9-5 job, social life, and independence doesn't ever get to me, when of course it does. 99% of the time this whole "I'm fine" act very rarely slips.

As a result of keeping back the harsh reality that is life with chronic illness, I often receive comments from people saying "I wish that I could do as little as you", "my friend has ME and she manages to live a normal life, so I don't see why you can't". And I'll be honest, it leaves me feeling a little misunderstood that people choose not to believe me based purely on my 'she looks fine' exterior. Besides, what is ill supposed to look like? 

 I'm well aware that my dolled up appearance probably doesn't help matters, but strip back the makeup- which acts as a mask to hide behind- smile, and ever so frequent reply of "I'm fine, really" and you'll find a girl that looks as awful as she feels. Believe me when I say that dark under eye circles, and sickly pale skin are very much part of my life, I just choose to cover up all the visible signs of feeling unwell, as there really is more to me than my illness. 

"Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist" 

But more importantly, that very same done up to the nines appearance leaves others assuming that looking healthy equals being healthy, and that somehow a picture on Instagram of me holding a glass of prosecco now means that I'm miraculously better- proving that some people do tend to focus on how you look, rather than how you feel. 

For me, Instagram is a creative outlet, a space for me to share my passions: fashion, beauty and taking photos, and although chronic illness is a huge part of my life I don't always want to share that side as I feel that my life is SO much more than being known as the girl that always bangs on about how unwell she's feeling. 

It's perhaps unthought of that most suffering is hidden behind closed doors; the amount of time that you had to spend in bed unable to do a thing because you had to, and not because you wanted to- the worst times aren't often spoke of. But despite judgemental comments I feel lucky that I can cover my illness up with a bit lot of makeup, as others aren't able to do so. 

So, the next time that you find yourself saying "but they don't look ill" remember that not all illnesses are visible, and even if they are it may have involved a lot of makeup to disguise it. Nobodies life is completely as it seems. 

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