Woman With Crohn’s Strikes Back At People Saying ‘You Don’t Look Sick’

by Johanna Silver
Johanna is a writer who lives, works, and volunteers in New York.

We all have a separate side we show to the world that may look very different than what we are feeling on the inside.

Everyone is fighting their own invisible battles, and to assume that everyone’s photos, makeup, and personality reflect what their entire life is like would be wrong.

The Internet has made it possible for people to peer into each other’s lives through photos and statuses, but, usually, that is just a sliver of their complicated, multifaceted world.

Unfortunately, some people who saw the online life of Mary Horsley — a blogger, veteran, and person living with Crohn’s disease — thought that she didn’t fit their idea of someone living with an illness, and chided her for “not looking sick.”

In response to the comments, Horsley decided to create an online post to talk about what it is like living with an invisible disease like Crohn’s.

Her words are an important reminder for us to respect those who are battling illnesses, like this girl living with type 1 diabetes, as well as people with depression or other disorders that are unseen from an outside perspective.

Check out her full response below.

[H/T: The Mighty]

Mary Horsley, a young woman living with Crohn’s disease, was fed up with people commenting online, saying, “But you don’t look sick,” in reference to her photos.

So the Kentucky veteran, stylist, and owner of the blog, It Could Be Worse, decided to educate people on invisible illnesses and the struggles that she works through every single day.

Check out her entire post from The Mighty below, explaining what it is like to struggle behind smiling.

“I hope this post doesn’t come off bitter or scathing, but I am so tired of people’s judgmental and malicious comments, especially when they assume you must look a certain way for sickness validation and support from your friends and family.

“I have enough to deal with, as do many others — why must I also deal with disease ignorance, like people saying I am ‘faking’ my illness based on my makeup?

“Why do I need to look ‘bad’ and feel bad, too?”

“And what does that even mean? I don’t ‘look’ sick enough?

“What am I supposed to look like? What am I supposed to look like to help you believe I hurt?

“How am I supposed to look to help you believe I am in constant pain, even with a smiling face?

“I’m sorry I don’t look sick to you, so why don’t I start posting pictures of all my fun toilet contents? I’m sure that’ll clear up some of your doubts.

“Just because I don’t always look sick and I put on a happy face doesn’t mean I’m not sick and struggling.

“Of course, I’m going to share my cute photos. Don’t you?”

“I’m sorry I don’t post enough selfies or images from my illness, but you can’t blame me for posting photos of myself that I like.

“I am rarely seen with a face full of makeup, so I’m going to share those images for the world to see…

“You think of all things to fake, that I really wanted to fake bowel disease and to be forced to discuss bowel movements for the rest of my life?

“No. Thank. You.

“I don’t look sick?”

1. I can look ‘good’ on the outside and feel bad on the inside.

“Of course the photos I share are ‘good’ photos… I’m not going to share pictures of me puking or sh*tting blood now, am I?

“I can look pretty and still feel pain and be sick.”

2. How do you know what I, or others, struggle with daily?

“Other than the info I share online through my social media posts or blog.

“And if we rarely talk, you can’t assume to know all about my life; my battle; my journey with this invisible illness.

“You think you know me, my pain level, my feelings, but you know nothing.

“Be glad you can’t relate. Be glad you don’t understand what I go through daily.”

3. If I want to do my face and hair every single day, I will. 

“If I want to shamelessly share my ‘good day’ selfies because I’m feeling myself, I will.

“If I want to waste a day’s worth of makeup to sit at home, in pain, in and out of the bathroom, and never leaving pajamas, I will.

“You should know I do my face once a week, if that. Why do I have to feel bad internally and look ‘bad’ externally, too?

“Why is my makeup a representation of my pain level for you?”

4. Crohn’s and other bowel diseases are not something that can be faked, so if I’m feeling like doing my face, know I’m not miraculously cured.

“If you think I don’t look sick enough, you need to rethink and examine why exactly you think every doctor I have seen is wrong, why every pill capsule I have had has shown Crohn’s disease, and why I am using dangerous biological drugs, because, you know, they give those out to everyone.

“And I guess that’s why it took two years for a final diagnosis… because the doctors love a scavenger hunt for symptoms like my pain that you claim aren’t real.”

5. And finally, let me see your doctorate for gastrointestinal diseases, since you know what someone with an invisible illness like Crohn’s should look like.

“Why is my smile on the outside a representation of my pain level I am struggling with on the inside?

“Why do you question it when what we invisible illness warriors really need is support and belief that when we say we feel bad, we feel bad, regardless of attire, makeup, smiles, or happy personalities.

“I’m struggling to find the silver lining, so don’t question my outside appearance when you have no idea what I deal with on my insides.”

If you want to show your support for those living with invisible illnesses, make sure to SHARE with friends and family on Facebook.