But You Don't Look Sick

From the age of fifteen, I has been diagnosed with a myriad of illnesses from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to Epstein Barr, and finally, many years later to a determination of Lupus and Fibromyalgia. Though battling a shopping list of symptoms, I have consistently been told, by both well-wishers and doctors alike, “But you don't look sick.” as if that was some kind of compensation for being chronically ill. Many times, being pretty or not sickly looking, made it harder to validate an illness you cannot see.

I guess it started back in college when friends would see pills on my desk and ask what they were for....I had to explain that the pills weren't recreational and that I was sick. Without fail I would always here the now infamous words "But you don't Look sick?". I would always try to respond with something witty like... "I forgot to stamp my forehead with sick girl", or "would you rather if I was pale, skinny and puking?" The best response so far as been my standard reply of "That's just the look I was going for!" It always threw people off, got them to ask questions, laugh, or talk... and in the end they got to learn a little bit about me, and hopefully a little bit about anyone dealing with an invisible illness.

I get stared at when I use my handicapped-parking pass. I get judged when I wait in the same doctors office as the elderly. When I take out my pocketbook, and you see 8 bottles of pills--instead of makeup and a wallet--I get the same confused stare. I don’t fit the mold that people expect when they see someone with a disability.

I started making shirts on cafepress for myself or for friends that said But you don't look sick, everyone loved them so much- that I started making more that said Lupus sucks! (As positive of a person as I try to be... There is no better way to say it-- it just sucks!) I wore but Lupus sucks shirt to the grocery store and stranger stopped me and asked me where I purchased the shirt, I said that I made it-- and before long- she bought one for her daughter etc.

I run a website and a message boards called Butyoudontlooksick.com and I started receiving requests for many illnesses on the "sucks" shirts... and even other quotes like "sick and tired of being sick and tired" etc. I add new designs and quotes every week.

So far it has been a big hit! I love the people I have met through cafepress and it makes me happy to add some humor to living with sickness.

Thank you,


Obviously Christine's shop couldn't be more different than BurnTees, but we're still huge fans. I browsed around Chrstine's website, and you have to make sure you check it out. Even though Christine emailed me the above story, I almost used this story instead...it's a must read.

So make sure to check out Christine's site. There's a message board, articles, all kinds of interesting stuff. And Chrstine...our prayers are with you.


Anonymous said...

What a cool idea for a shop and designs. I know a few people with chronic pain issues, myself included, and I don't even try to explain anymore. If it's not "but you don't look sick" it's a load of pity that I don't want nor need!


Anonymous said...

I have bought christine's stuff and I love it. especially her spoon theory stuff. very cool and makes me feel like someone out there understands!