I wrote this not too long ago about this very same feeling:
You see me and I look normal.
You see me as your colleague. Some days I greet you with a smile. Some days I look tired. Usually I am buried in work just like you, most of the time these days I just like to be alone. Some days I’m not there when I should be. Many days may go by and you begin to ask about me, why is she always absent, why does she call in sick, she doesn’t look sick, she looked fine the other day…
You see me as a patient. I look fine, my tests are normal, and my illness has no name that you have found. You’re tired of looking. You’re tired of hearing about my symptoms. The endless battery of tests tells the story of a physically normal woman, the woman tells a different story. You offer me anti-depressants and benzodiazepines; you tell me I’m depressed.
You’re right about one thing: I am depressed.
You see me as your mother. You know the look I get in public these days when I desperately need to go home and lay down. You used to argue but now you look at me and say, “Mommy, we can go home, I know you feel bad.” You don’t blame me for not being as good as the other mommies.
You see me as your partner. You watch me struggle and feel helpless. You hold me closely as you slowly adapt to the person I have become. You encourage me, you listen to me cry, you accompany me when I ask you to, you know when its time to go home. You look me in the eyes and tell me you believe me.
I see myself, 34 years old, once-strong, ambitious woman, now struggling to get through each day, living with a chronic illness that has changed every part of my life.