You don’t have to look sick to be sick


I don’t look sick.

I go to classes, I hang out with my friends and I work hard on this publication. To any outsider looking in on my life, I seem perfectly normal.

However, I have a chronic illness. I face daily health struggles, but this isn’t always immediately obvious to people who don’t know me well.

I was five years old when I was diagnosed with Type One diabetes. When my doctors explained my disease to my parents, they thought my disease would run my life.

I work hard to not let that be the case. I can do anything anyone else can – it just takes me a lot more work. I have to constantly monitor my blood sugar and insulin intake. My disease isn’t in charge of me.

Even when I do everything correctly, though, my diabetes still gets in the way sometimes. Sickness and stress are worse for my body than for most people – and college is full of both. Sometimes I just don’t know why my blood sugar is out of control. Diabetes is an unpredictable disease.

When I have problems with my blood sugar, I have to take a break. Sometimes it’s as simple as sitting out of a sport for 15 minutes, and sometimes it takes hours to get my insulin levels under control.

Nobody can see when I feel like this. My chronic illness isn’t visible; high blood sugar doesn’t manifest itself on the outside.

A lot of chronic illnesses aren’t obvious to an outsider looking in. Someone can seem to lead a completely normal life but still suffer from health problems. People do not have to look or act sick to be sick.

Despite this, there still seems to be a stigma surrounding chronic illnesses. These people, who are going through a physically and emotionally exhausting situation to begin with, receive judgment constantly.

I’ve personally had people question my integrity because of my diabetes.

This is extremely insulting to anyone with a heath condition. I have a right to take care of myself and my body without scrutiny from people I hardly know.

I’m not asking for pity. I don’t want people to feel bad for me or anyone else with a chronic illness. What I am asking for, however, is the privacy and respect sick people deserve.

Even though someone might not look sick, his or her body might be fighting an invisible battle every day.

I had someone say to me, “If there is ever a day when you have to choose between your job and your health, I hope you have the strength to choose your health.”

Few things are more important than health. Even though I work hard to take care of my body, when things go wrong, I should be able to step back and take care of myself without being judged or criticized.

My work ethic and commitment to my responsibilities have nothing to do with my chronic illness. I will do as much as I am physically capable of, and this is all anyone should ask of me.

I hope everyone with a chronic illness has the strength to choose to put their health first over their jobs or society’s opinion.


One Comment;

  1. Jared Shindler said:

    Maggie, this was an AMAZING article! You are one of the strongest people that I know and I am proud to call you my best friend! Keep up the good work! GO DAWGS!