I said I was fine, but I wasn’t really.
I had trouble focusing and felt nauseated all the time. At first, I wasn’t even sure what was going on, I just knew that I felt awful. It turns out that a virus I didn’t even know I had attacked my vestibular system, resulting in eye tracking problems and a feeling of motion sickness, even when I was just walking. Vestibular rehab was ordered but progress was slow. I looked fine, but I didn’t feel fine. There were setbacks and days I had to spend in bed. I was tired of explaining what was going on with me, so I just became quiet and went about my work and home life, as best I could.
Part of it was just a strategy. Act normal, and you will feel normal, I told myself. Trouble is, I spent too many days acting. Weeks turned into months, then into years, and it was discouraging. Act normal, and you will feel normal. I pulled it off a lot of the time, but it also kept me isolated. Normal everyday living required a lot of concentration, so I hunkered down and kept to myself.
Have you ever wanted to wear a sign on your forehead that said, I may look fine, but I’m not? Have you ever felt alone in the midst of dealing with a mental or physical ailment that others can’t see?
Spending a lot of time covering up something like that is exhausting. It also widens the gap between you and those around you because the outsider cannot see or feel what is affecting you on the inside.
During my illness, I felt alone and abandoned. But thankfully, in his mercy, the Lord pursued me, reminding me that I was not alone, that I was not abandoned. In my times of greatest need, I felt like I couldn’t concentrate enough to read Scripture. Even so, I was comforted by repeating something I memorized long ago, this portion of the 23rd Psalm:
The Lord is my shepherd;
I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in fields of green grass
and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water.
He gives me new strength.
He guides me in the right paths,
as he has promised.
Even if I go through the deepest darkness,
I will not be afraid, Lord,
for you are with me.
Your shepherd's rod and staff protect me. (GNTD)
These verses lifted me up when I needed it most and then sustained me through my struggle. After years of treating the after effects of this virus, I received a diagnosis of vestibular migraines and currently take medication. A lot of the struggle for me has passed, but I still turn to God’s Word for strength and peace every day.
If you are experiencing a sense of loneliness as you battle with an invisible illness, you can reflect on these Psalms for comfort:
- To you, O Lord, I offer my prayer;
in you, my God, I trust. …
Turn to me, Lord, and be merciful to me,
because I am lonely and weak. —Psalm 25:1,16 (GNTD)
- The Lord protects and defends me;
I trust in him.
He gives me help and makes me glad;
I praise him with joyful songs. —Psalm 28:7 (GNTD)
- The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a place of safety in times of trouble.
Those who know you, Lord, will trust you;
you do not abandon anyone who comes to you. —Psalm 9:9-10 (GNTD)
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