Mountah Ash's Musings

The musings of a chronically ill girl named after a tree.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Invisible Illnesses

   Hey guys...I know I have not posted in a while. I have had a lot of things on my mind. Yes, that is a stupid excuse.

 Perhaps I should apologize ahead of time for what is about to be written. 

     Not because it is offensive. 

Not even because it might be hard to understand because my brain isnt working well today.
 No, I am apologizing because I should have written something like this a while ago.

      If you have read my blog before, you might have heard me mention my Lyme Disease. However, I don't think I mentioned just how horrid it can be. 

I am not complaining, dont get me wrong. But I want you all to know.

   There are so many diseases out there, that are underestimated, or even almost unknown. And on the outside, you look perfectly fine. But did you realize that on the inside, they are falling apart? 

  I have Chronic Lyme disease.
  I suffer from fairly bad depression. 

  Before I was on medication, I had anxiety and panic attacks almost 4 times a week, just around the house and at church. 

Maybe the depression and stuff comes with the Lyme, and maybe it is a result of the Lyme. Either way, they go hand in hand now.

As if that werent bad enough, I have Pain Amplification Syndrome.
That is because having Lyme for so long broke my system. A pain level of 2 for other people, would probably be about an 8 for me.

 However, this also works against me sometimes. Occasionally it flips around and I will injure myself, and not notice im bleeding until a while later. 

  In spite of all this, or perhaps because of it, I have been able to relate to people a lot more. I can see the flash of pain in peoples eyes, that only lasts a second. Where before I would smile at them, and walk away. But now I force myself to go up to that person, and even if I have never met them, ask them if they are okay, and compliment them on something.

I would never wish all this on someone else.
      But I also am glad I have an odd way. 

  I have become a lot more sensitive to other peoples needs. Sad to say, I used to be pretty self centered. All of the stuff I am going through has taught me to read people better, and I have been able to relate and help a lot of people with what they are going through.

But there is a problem in this world with people thinking that if someone looks healthy, they are healthy. I wish that were true. 

I get very angry when people say Depression is not real. My own sister believes that it is not a real thing. I used to just shrug when people said that. But I am done sitting on the sidelines.
True, some people who say they have depression are overreacting.
But then there are those people who really do have depression.
Dont you DARE tell them that depression is a sin. 

And you had damn well better not tell them to "get over it"

All those things do is make it so much worse.

Perhaps you might think "Oh well you look happy enough"

But keep that in your head. Please, dont say it out loud.  Because that person who looks so happy? They goe home, and sit on their bed, and cry. There might not even be a particular thing wrong. You just lay there, crying. Unable to stop. 
Or worse, lay there, just feeling numb. 

Some people with depression, or otherwise, find self harm a release. 
I have heard people say that cutting is a cry for attention. 
May I just say, you have no clue how false that is.
Oh sure, some people do do it as a cry for attention.
But some do it, because it honestly helps.

No, it is not the best thing to do. 
No, it may not be the smartest thing to do.
But it honest to goodness helps. 

I know this, because I have a problem with cutting. I have managed to not do it often, but it is a problem for me. 
So here I am saying dont you DARE tell people to knock it off, or to stop being dramatic.
Cutting releases chemicals in your brain that makes things better. For a while at least.
And its not always when someone is really upset either. I actually have the hardest time not cutting when I am just sitting there on my bed feeling numb. Because it makes you feel SOMETHING.

Perhaps the reason I find it so hard to tell anyone about all this is because I am terrified people will feel bad for me.

 Dont feel bad for me. Dont feel bad for anyone struggling.
Help them. Show them kindness and grace.

I pray for everyone who has any of the"Invisable illnesses.

They are horrid.
People think you are crazy.

And people look down on you.

Please, pray for these people. Help me raise awareness for all of these lesser known things. Dont take it lightly.

I wont say things like "Oh share this on facebook to heal" or crap like that. But just keep this information in your head, and in your hearts. Do reaserch of your own.

Thank you for reading this.

God Bless.



  1. Rowan,

    THANK YOU for sharing! It opened my heart. I pray for your Lyme frequently, but will include depression. I admit that I do not understand that or cutting, and what you shared is real.
    You are allowing God, the maker of the universe, and the creator of YOU to use these personal experiences to help others. We are His hands and feet and it's a blessing, not only for others when you step out of your comfort zone to speak to them in encouragement, but He's healing and loving you when you serve him in this way.

    Again -- thanks for sharing and acting.


    Diane Dorr

  2. Rowan,

    Thank you so much for sharing. I am very proud of you. This was a well written and insightful post. I learned from you and I will keep my eyes and heart open to those who are suffering...

    Love you,

  3. You are amazing and brave! I pray you find the answers that work for you. Some of the greats people have battled depression. Lincoln's story in particular was inspiring to me that he battled such private wars while still doing so much with his life. Thank you for sharing it's time people realized pat answers do more harm then help.

  4. You are a smart woman! I have a young son with an invisible illness- so I crave insights like yours to be able to prepare myself to help him deal as he gets older. Thanks.

  5. Wise words from the heart of someone that knows, too well, the effects of an invisible illness. Thank you for sharing Rowan.
    Society places some pretty horrible labels on those that have any kind of illness that is unseen and/or misunderstood. Heck, society has some pretty awful labels for physical/mental issues that ARE seen but may not be understood. I think one of the hardest things about having any kind of chronic physical ailment is the thoughtless and insensitive comments people make. Most people that know me well know that I am often either getting sick, sick, just getting over being sick or am having back pain, knee pain, headache, blah blah blah....with periods of days or (praise the Lord) WEEKS where I feel great and have no complaints. One of the most painful comments I often hear is, "Man, you are ALWAYS sick or having some kind of pain." REALLY???? Oh, thanks for cluing me in....I had NO CLUE that I have been sick and/or hurting so much. The fact is, I don't need to be told. I know ALL TO WELL how often I'm sick and how often I'm in pain. Fibromyalgia is one of my issues (chronic pain in the joints). Of course, many don't believe it to be a real medical condition. I challenge those people to live a week...nah, make that 2 weeks so they can get a REAL GOOD understanding of this condition. After 2 weeks I feel confident in saying they will have changed their mind. It is an invisible illness yet so very VERY real, in terms of the physical and emotional toll it takes on your body. It's very difficult to have a condition that often controls your daily life. It's hard to make long term commitments. Sometimes life is planned hourly rather than day-to-day or even week-to-week. It can be life controlling. For those that don't have an invisible illness, it's hard to understand. They ask questions like, "Why don't you have your doctor put you on some kind of medication to control it?" Tried it and it didn't work. The side effects of the medication are worse than the condition.
    Anyway, I could go on and on. I'm sorry you are going through this Rowan. However, you have an amazing grasp on this subject for someone so young. I imagine you will have an impact on MANY MANY people throughout your life...because of what you are going through now. Thank you for stepping forward and speaking out for those that, for whatever reason, can't speak up for themselves. We really are ALL humans...being human. Respect, compassion, consideration, grace and love should be the foundation for everyone's life. Unfortunately, we know that isn't always the case.
    God bless you my young friend as you endeavor to put a face to the unseen illness. You ROCK!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Rowan,

    I was searching for inspiration on the blogs of The Well-Trained Mind members who have high school students and came across your mom's blog and then yours. Your lovely photo and the caption "invisible illness" caught my eye. My beautiful 20 yo daughter has struggled with depression and anxiety since she was 15 and perhaps maybe even earlier. Cutting has been an issue as well. Counseling, medication at times, and a lot of self-care have helped.

    Thank you for your willingness to share your story. We have discovered along our journey with this "invisible illness" that talking and reaching out to others that struggle is important. The sense of isolation can be overwhelming for many of the reasons that you pointed out in your blog. Please know that there is no judgment here, only compassion, understanding, and admiration for your courage in speaking out and coping with your illness.

    It's very difficult to articulate the impact of your well-written blog, but I want you to know that you will be in our hearts and our best wishes. I would like to think that by continuing to speak up, you and my dd will make a difference for someone else that is struggling.

    Take care,

    Lisa (swimmermom3 from TWTM board)

  7. God bless you as well! My husband is disabled by chronic Lyme Disease that went undiagnosed for 15 years, so I know, it's VERY real, and very hard to deal with. Bless you for sharing your story with others and for letting God use this to make you more compassionate as well--that takes courage and devotion and caring. Keep looking to the Lord! (MerryAtHope from TWTM board)

  8. I can relate to this so much. I suffer from nearly ten mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety. People tell me to get over it and its not real, among other things. It's so frustrating and I often feel alone in my struggle.

    I used to cut, then cutting led to alcoholism in my late teens. I went down a bad path. But thankfully I have medication and therapy now.

    I can understand being self centered. I was so angry and bitter from my childhood (severe abuse) that I couldn't focus on other people's problems or care about anything besides myself. I've opened up now too though.

    No one I know understands what its like. They say "oh I was depressed one time for a couple days". No. Thats not even the same thing. Its horrible suffering from something that people judge you for. But it makes you stronger in the end. And a better person, I think. Because I've suffered so much, I'm very understanding of other people now. And each time, my reactions to things become less and less awful.

    That might have been too much to share, but I really enjoyed reading this post. It really grabbed a hold of me and I completely understand how you feel.

    Stay strong. xo

  9. One of my Facebook friends has Chronic Lyme Disease and has been herxing a lot. She is just the sweetest and most genuine person and it breaks my heart to see her suffering. I want so much to help her, If she and I were friends that saw each other in person I know I could help her by doing things like running errands when she was too weak to do them herself or making meals for her and taking them to her. But, we don't see each other in person and I don't know what to do that would help her.

    So, I Googled how to help and the links brought me here to your blog. I think you are a strong person and admire the way that you've come out to let people know that you understand and know what they're going through and they aren't alone. I'm also grateful to you for your honesty in doing so in order to help those that don't believe or understand can see that your illness is real. God Bless You!


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