Most chronic illness and pain conditions are classed as ‘invisible’ this is because in most cases the illness is hidden…
The illness and pain is usually hidden because the sufferers have an unbelievable strength and ability to cope and are able to hide exactly how they are feeling.
Chronic means ongoing, there is no time limit, no end in sight and usually no cure. Sufferers get used to pain and get used to feeling rough, it becomes their normal. If you imagine how dreadful you feel If you have the flu or some sort of bug, you just want to curl up and get in bed. Imagine feeling like that everyday?! Life has to go on, we can’t lay in bed forever, we have found a way to conceal and conquer.
If you have a friend/family member who sufferes from ‘invisible illness/pain,’ you may of in the past doubted the seriousness or the truth of the situation. You may look at your friend/family and wonder how someone who looks so vibrant, well dressed and well looking could really be so poorly?!
I shall try to explain why your friend/family manages to look so immaculately groomed when she claims to be feeling so rough.
Your friend has become ‘The Master of Disguise.’ She is so used to the pain and feeling rough and she she is now able to hide it from the world.
You will rarely see her surgery scars, tubes or bruising because she has learnt to dress in a way that disguises them.
The illness isn’t invisible, the sufferer is an illusionist capable of wearing a costume so convincing, she’d give Hollywood a run for its money.
The following list of 9 ways ways we try to
hide our conditions are some of the things myself and others do. We do these things so that our Illness and pain remain hidden. All you see is an immaculately groomed person but so much thought goes into each day. It takes planning and preparation to hide how we truly feel inside.
1. Our Skin
We like to look after our skin. Often we are on all sorts of medication and it does horrid things to the skin on our face and bodies. Our skin shows the annoying retaliations instantly and it’s often another ongoing issue that needs to be looked after. Medication can Make the skin dry, sensitised, itchy, blotchy, you name it, medication can cause it. So we really invest in our skin care regime. Our products are just as important as our medication and we take them seriously….okay, well usually….there are, like everybody out there, the days we can’t be arsed but when we do pamper, we pamper hard!
If my skin is feeling rubbish, I LOVE using Clarins Beauty Flash Balm it makes your skin look and feel amazingly radiant. If my skin looks particularly dull, I sometimes sleep in a thick layer of this wonder product and wake up to beautiful skin.
We look after our bodies with nice creams and lotions and we love a relaxing bubble bath or bath bomb. Our bodies hurt and there is nothing more soothing than chilling in a nice hot bath. My absolute favourite bath time treats are Lush Bath Bombs they smell AMAZING, look beautiful as they dissolve in the water, are good for your skin and good for your mood.
2. Our hair
Okay so just like our skin, medication can really mess up our hair. The damage, thinning or dryness start showing up more or less instantly so if we are on long term medication, it’s a constant hair battle and we have to look after it!
My favourite products for repairing and strenghthening my hair is Kerastase Resistance Bain Force Architecte Shampoo there is also a conditioner and hair mask. This range is for weak, brittle or very damaged hair and split-ends. You use as an every day shampoo to strengthen and reconstruct your hair and the result will be softer, smoother, stronger hair that is revitalised. Kerastase Resistance Bain Force Architecte contains Complexe Ciment-Cylane, which is a combination of intra-Cylane, Ceramide R and Pro-Keratin to condition and strengthen your hair.
Groomed hair isn’t always a must but we’ve become masters at hiding a bad hair day. I have a range of Bobble Hats they are my best friend and during the Summer months, I’m a fan of the messy bun. Sometimes washing my hair can be just a spoon too far (see the blog post about the ‘Spoon Theory’), so Dry Shampoo is my wash bag essential.
3. Our nails
Getting our nails done makes us feel really nice. Even if the rest of us looks like we have been dragged through a hedge backwards, if our nails are groomed and painted a nice colour, we feel so much better and uplifted. Medication can also wreck the nails, it takes six months to show up. So anything we are having to take in January will give us crappy nails in July. Keeping our nails nice and perfectly groomed helps us win the battle against our treatments and our conditions.
I really recommend Jessica Nails they have beautiful colours that are toxin free and good for your nails and the treatments, creams and Zen Spa Pedicure products are like a facial for your hands and feet!
Our toes will show signs of medication damage 12 months after starting, so they need looking after too! Our medical treatments often peak and drop non stop throughout a 12 month period. So by keeping on top of our beauty treatments, we are fighting the good fight against our bodies.
4. Our makeup
We love our makeup, this is our illusion, our ‘happy mask’ and the way we look so fresh faced and glowing. There are now so many illuminators, highlighters, strobing creams and bronzing products out there, a healthy glow is never far from our reach.
My must haves are, groomed brows and brown mascara. Your brows frame your face and give an instant eye lift when they are looking good. I wax mine ( myself as I’m a qualified Beauty Therapist) once every three weeks and I couldn’t live without my Maëlle Brow Stylist it’s AMAZING!! Brown mascara is a fantastic everyday colour and will make your eyes appear youthful and refreshed. It’s more forgiving than black and can be applied in one quick swoop.
I apply a dot of a highlighter in the inner corner of each eye to awaken them, a swoosh of highlighter over each brow bone to lift and a dab of highlighter over my cheekbones to illuminate my face. If I can be bothered I’ll contour but most days I create a pinky flushed glow on my cheeks with Benefit Dandelion Powder
5. Our clothes
We love clothes and we love keeping up with the latest fashions, we just have to adapt fashion at times in order to remain comfortable and practical.
I love jeans but I have to pick carefully. I have a scar on the side of my abdomen where the bone graft was removed for my pelvic surgery and a scar across my stomach after two C-sections and the main site of the pelvic surgery. My scars never close properly, this is due to and part of my Ehlers-Danlos symptoms. The scars are really sensitive and the skin over them is very thin, it can get sore if anything rubs around them. I can’t wear belts because they dig in so I tend to live in skinny jeans with a stretch so they don’t fall down. I get the soft denim types and I find them extremely comfortable to wear. I have to have a high waist to sit above the scars but boy do I miss my low slung hipster jeans of old. It’s belly grabber fashion all the way for me now!! My favourite are Next High Waist Enhancer Skinny Jeans they fit like a glove and are very flattering on.
The cold can really hurt us so we invest in decent coats because we need to be warm. My coat of choice at the moment is my leopard print faux fur coat. It’s s little OTT for everyday but I don’t care, it’s warm and feels fabulous.
It may seem like we have a shopping addiction….well sometimes we do. It’s not the clothes we are addicted to, it’s the buzz of choosing something, searching for that perfect outfit (online mostly) and then the joy a parcel through the door brings. Some of us spend huge amounts of time at home alone or in hospital and I for one handle hospital admission boredom by surfing the sales..
6. Our shoes
Shoes are a tricky one, we love them…really love them but need comfort, safety, good grips and we want them to look good. This may turn us into a bit of a compulsive trainer addict….seriously, we may just have them in every colour…then add the ankle boots, boots, ballet pumps…..don’t get me started on flip flops and sandals!
Trainers are our weakness though because we can be practical yet stylish at the same time. We aren’t supposed to wear flip flops, they don’t support enough but we still love them! My favourite footwear are Doc Martens , Converse and Cath Kidston Trainers . I live in all of these and rarely wear anything else. If I break the rules and wear flip flops in the Summer then Havaianas are my top choice.
7. Our bags
Bags glorious bags, we can’t have enough of them! We need a bag, we have things to carry…all sorts of things to help us function through our day and we want to carry them in style! They need to be practical and easy for us to carry but they must look good too!
I think I own every colour of cross body bag possible and I love having matching shoes and bags. On really rubbish days when we have to give in to wearing comfort over style, a plain pair of tracksuit bottoms and simple hoody can be seriously jazzed up with funky trainers and a matching bag, it’s the finer details that count and make an outfit look cool.
A little bit of bling, makes the heart sing! Just like a bag, a decent piece of jewellery can really jaz up a plain comfy outfit. A statement necklace takes a jumper or shirt from average to wowzers in seconds and a charm bracelet or chunky silver ring can add life, style and character to our look. Chunky rings are good at disguising swollen fingers, dainty rings make fingers look bigger. Chunky rings make the fingers look slender (providing we can get them over our knuckles first!!)
My absolute favourite brand of jewellery is Annie Haak I have the charm bracelets, earrings and necklace.
We aren’t wearing sunglasses in Winter because we are vain and trying to look cool. Some medications can make your eyes photosensitive and the sun can be really dazzling and hard to see in. My eyes water like mad in the sun, partly due to being so tired and partly because they are just super sensitive. Sometimes are sunnies are a necessity so we will wear them with style. My absolute favourite are my Ray Ban mirrored aviators. They look cool and really block out the sun.
So you can see, quite a lot of thought goes into the day to day.
Our illness and pain isn’t ‘invisible’ it’s simply that the we have now become a ‘master of disguise and illusion! Once we look right, our last accessory to put on is our smile. Our smile is our mask and only those closest to us will ever see us mask free.
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