The Reality of Chronic Illness

First off, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Annie, I’m a high school theatre nerd, and I live with a chronic illness: idiopathic gastroparesis.

Gastroparesis is a condition where the stomach can’t efficiently push food through the system. It causes pain, nausea, bloating, and usually vomiting (although you can still have it without vomiting, which is my case). It makes it hard to get enough nutrition, so many patients--including myself--are tube fed.

Chronic illnesses are tough to deal with! Life is unpredictable. You can wake up one morning, go shopping, and have a great day, but then at night you can end up in the ER with unmanageable symptoms. In fact, I’m typing this in the emergency room because my symptoms (mainly nausea and bloating) are much more severe than normal.

The invisibility of chronic illness is definitely real. If it weren’t for my NJ tube taped to my face, I’d look like a normal, healthy teenager. This has caused a lot of issues. I met with a surgeon to talk about getting my tube placed surgically, which will make it possible to drain air and bile from my stomach without going to the hospital, and he said I probably wasn’t that sick and that eating food would somehow magically fix it. He said I wasn’t underweight, so I clearly didn’t need a tube. So many people have to deal with this reality: always hearing “But you don’t look sick.”

So I created this post to show you a little about what chronic illness is like, and to raise awareness for people fighting invisible illness everywhere. Not just physical disabilities, mental ones are just as real and just as challenging! Psychology is a subject that fascinates me, and I will always be an advocate for mental health awareness. Here’s to chronic warriors all over the world!