You look well…

The other day I was told I was looking very well. It’s funny when people say that, because I tend to think of this Spike Milligan poem, especially the ending.

Feelings

There must be a wound!
No one can be this hurt
and not bleed.

How could she injure me so?
No marks
No bruise

Worse!
People say ‘My, you’re looking well’
….. God help me!
She’s mummified me –
ALIVE!

-Spike Milligan


ME/CFS is part of a range of conditions that get called “invisible illnesses”. Unless we’re really super unwell, we tend to look like normal, healthy people. Even in medical tests, we’re normal, healthy people; often extremely healthy by the metrics used in hematology.

Unless you know what to look for, you probably couldn’t tell I’ve been too tired to get out of bed today.

But there are days when I am too weak and tired to lift a drink to my mouth, when I can still look healthy and vibrant (especially if I used the last of my energy to put makeup on the bags under my eyes).

On the other hand, I once had a complete stranger stop me and say “you look absolutely exhausted, are you ok?” – that was actually quite lovely, because I did feel horrible and alone, and having the illness seen to that extent was really reassuring at the time… It’s probably not the safest thing to say to people on the street though, much like “when are you due?”

I don’t know if I had a point other than that the poem feels very appropriate to my relationship with my body and the people who encounter it.

ME mummified me –

Alive.