Illnesses of the non-visible sort

Since Sept 19th or so, I’ve had a series of colds with a little bit of ‘normal’ time but then it comes back. This has meant some working from home and some times where I had conversations at work that I wasn’t fully present for.

On the other hand, you can hear it in my voice… the blocked sinuses, the cough, and so on… and see the visible symptoms that make it clear that I’m not making this up.

It’s really sucked. I’ve been really sick of being sick.

Sickness is an odd thing, however. Because what if you were just as sick as my respiratory tract was… except in your mind. Or if any number of hormone levels were messed up and so you were just *tired* all of the time. There aren’t easy visible signs of this. Nor is it something you can necessarily ‘catch’ from someone. It’s not always something that has you wasting away. These sorts of things don’t hit everybody. I have a family history of thyroid issues, so I’m kinda accustomed to seeing in my family members how a person can appear totally healthy but be so tired they regularly sleep 16 hours a day. So there’s a whole world of people out there who don’t really understand how it feels.

Circumstances remind me that I’m already feeling a lot better and that it was probably just stress and travel that made me ripe for infection by a series of viruses and bacteria. There is an end-point for me where I’ll feel normal again.

Just about everybody I know who’s beat mental illness spends the rest of their life looking over their shoulder, watching for signs that it’s coming back. The same thing happens for a lot of chronic medical conditions. You get your levels right, get your life in order and you are fine for years… and then something changes and you’ve got a new set of problems.

Like I said, this is not something that happens to everybody. A lot of folks tend to conflate mere sadness with clinical depression and assume the things that pulled them out of a funk when their dad died are going to help someone deal with the darkness that seemingly came from nowhere. We’ve got deep genetic programming that reminds us that the tigers pick off the weak members of the pack so we don’t want to appear flakey or worn out or otherwise stricken. Even worse, we’ve got people who know they can manipulate the world by talking about random invented mental or medical problems.

At least in my experience, for someone to tell you that they are clinically depressed or anxious or things like that… it requires them to get past a lot of fear. Will the person they are revealing this to suddenly decide that a person they once respected is nay but a attention-seeker? Will they get unhelpful advice about curing depression via yoga or a diet change instead of sympathy?

Knowing this, the next time someone gets past the fear, how are you going to react?