Invisible Illness?

This post was born after a brief conversation with a good friend on Instagram. He was talking about how he had finally come to accept that his depression/ocd/anxiety was a disability.

This got me thinking. I don’t feel disabled. I’ve suffered with fairly serious depression for over 20 years, but in my mind, a disability is a visible thing, so I can’t possibly be disabled.

Can I?

My friend suggested writing down all the things I struggle with on a regular basis.

– Cooking. I’m a great cook, but more often than not I find myself grabbing a bowl of cereal / bag of crisps, or just not eating at all. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve gone to bed hungry.

– Going to the gym. I’ve actually cancelled my membership now, which I’m gutted about because I love the gym. The same thing kept happening though: I’d book a class for the following day, but that day would arrive and I’d just be physically unable to make myself get ready and go. This resulted in me racking up fees for dishonouring the booking. This, would result in me hating myself just that little bit more.

– Phone calls. I just don’t make them when I should. Right now, I need a doctor’s appointment. Both my daughter and I need a dentist appointment, and have done for somewhere the region of six months. I need to call and check my Council Tax Benefit entitlement too. But I can’t. Just the thought of doing it makes me unbearably anxious. The pressure of doing these simple tasks weighs down on me to the point where I’m rendered immobile.

– eBay. I have a lot of things I need to get rid of. I’ve managed to charity shop the items that I can’t sell, but am left with a sizeable pile of things to list on eBay. I’ve always sold things on there. I know how to do it, and have got it down to a really quick process. Despite this however, like the phone calls, the pressure to do it is just too damned much. I want to get rid of it all. I need the money. But it’s impossible right now. And I know that when I do finally manage to do it, I’ll have to make excuses to the buyers about why their purchases took so long to post, as the pressure of sorting and posting will be too much.

– Sleep. Boy, can I sleep. I can sit down for 10 minutes to eat some lunch, and if I haven’t set an alarm, then I’ll be asleep for hours. When the tasks of the day are too hard, my old friend sleep comes by and takes me away from it all. Whether I want it to or not.

– Work. I very rarely miss work due depression-related reasons. Mainly this is because I know my situation will be worse without the money I’ll be earning. It’s so hard though. I wear makeup to work, and the act of putting it on is like putting on a mask. The mask is happy, always smiling, and hides everything I’m feeling. With only a few exceptions, I wear this mask throughout my shift, and I know it works because I get a lot of comments from customers among the lines of, “where do you get your enthusiasm from?”, and “we come here all the time and you always look so happy”. Little do they know. The effort of being this happy, outgoing person, really exhausts me. I’ve dropped from working 5 days to 4 per week as I need that extra recuperation time to make it possible. It would be so easy to skip work. I debate it heavily before every single shift. I leave it until the last possible second before starting to get ready. I wish I didn’t need the money so badly.

– Housework. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t live in a pigsty. I just can’t do some things maybe as often as others would do them. It’s the pressure that gets to me. The thought of having so much to do just renders me immobile again. I just about manage to keep up with the washing up and the laundry. Hoovering gets done if I wake to find I’m having a good day. Dusting…well…not so much. I hate writing this. I know I’ll come across as being lazy. And for some time I actually believed that myself, which of course, just made it worse.

So. That’s my list. And while it might seem fairly small (7 things. Not exactly an immeasurable amount), together they make me feel a complete failure.

Is this a disability? Or, to the uninformed observer, am I just lazy?

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