I want to breastfeed.
I also want to stand and rock my son. I want to put him in his sling and walk around. I want to go out into the fresh air and proudly push him in his pram.
I want to take my daughter to school. I want to cook a meal. I want to be able to get dressed every day. I want to drive my car places. I want to get out of bed.
I don’t want to be exhausted. I don’t want to shake and go dizzy. I don’t want to be confused and forgetful. I don’t want to need supervising on the loo or in the shower. I don’t want to cry at my husband and beg him not to leave me alone at home even once more.
But I want to breastfeed. Breast is best. Breast is what he needs. Or so I’ve been told.
But what if breast isn’t best? If I go back on my medication then breast would be downright dangerous. If I don’t, then literally all I’m good for is breastfeeding.
I languish in bed. Exhausted. Undressed. Useless.
But my baby boy is breastfeeding. He’s thriving. Surely that’s best??
I just don’t know anymore. What’s more important, breast milk or a healthier mummy?
Invisible illness. INVISIBLE illness. I N V I S I B L E illness.
Nope. I still don’t get it. How can my illness be invisible? Is it because of my invisible wheelchair that I use on my invisible bad days? Or even on my good days when I need to walk further than a few feet? Maybe it’s due to my invisible lift, and invisible adaptations within my home? Or it could be the invisible hours I spend in hospitals?
No. They’re not invisible. But you don’t get to see them. I hide away at my worst. I put on a smile to hide the pain. I wipe away the tears, and rarely do I share my hospital journey anymore. So is that what makes it invisible?
No. My illness is not invisible. I am not secretly disabled. You, my healthy counterpart, are blinkered. Please, I’m asking you, take off the blinkers. Look closely.
Look at the way my hair is roughly brushed, but not styled. See how I don’t wear makeup, those dark circles under my eyes. Notice the winces and sharp intakes of breath when I move. The stumbles, trips, slurred speech.
See how my life has changed. Where my job and social life has gone. See how my friend circle has reduced. See how rarely I leave the house. How much I desperately want to.
Just look beyond my smile.
Our illness is not invisible. It’s just not quite as easily seen as some other disabilities. But often, we feel invisible. Forgotten. Left behind.
So please. See my disability. See how I’m still desperately trying every day to live around it. But most of all, see me. See us.