I just want to be normal. Do I tell the truth?
April 2, 2018 | Posted in: Chronic Illness and Diagnosis
“Just tell the truth. Adults like truth. Then you won’t get in trouble and you’ll still be able to come over.” I was sitting on my screened porch listening to the neighbors children play. I’d just heard the sound of shattering glass as their baseball broke their garage window. I had to chuckle at the statement, and the irony of the timing of the boys comment. I was out back mulling over my own struggles with the truth.
Adults like truth, do we? I wasn’t as sure as the kids across the street. There was no ball and bat lying in my driveway. My mother wasn’t pulling into the driveway demanding an explanation, poor kids. My quest- to tell the truth or not- wasn’t as urgent as the boys. The lies I tell myself in relation to my chronic illnesses rang in my head. No, my legs don’t hurt too much to do the thing. No, I don’t need to rest again. The lies I told to other people bumped around my mind. Sure, I’m ok to work on my day off. Yes, that late movie sounds like a great idea.
Mostly, my lies are because I want nothing more than to feel normal, like my vague memories of a pre-sick Ellie. Do non sick people feel normal? Is anyone normal? A good friend tells me that no one is normal. I’ve even seen internet memes that say normal is nothing other than a load size setting on a washing machine. I’m not sure I believe my friend. Other people are probably extremely normal. I spend too much time lamenting the loss of my “normal” status.
Out there on my porch, I watch the scene unfold across the street. The kids told the truth. I too, could tell the truth. Nevermind the physical and mental price of the truth. It was for my own good, wasn’t it? The truth in question here is about my latest addition to my chronic illness collection. Should I tell my employer? Was it of any benefit to me? There is no legal requirement for me to disclose this information.
My MS diagnosis is no secret. I informed my employer fairly quickly. At times I’m proud of my decision to inform them. It was my first real step on the road to chronic illness advocacy. Other times I wish hadn’t. I only received minimal support at first, and a loads of disbelief and blatant accusations of faking my condition.
As my MS progresses and new conditions are thrown into the mix, it gets harder and harder to hide, and hiding wasn’t my intention anyway. It all goes back to the normal thing. Once people know, they treat you differently. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Either way, it is what it is. The difficult decision I now face is to tell them about an even more serious diagnosis. The information could be vital in an emergency, but could also further cloud already rainy skies. I just want to be normal. Do I tell the truth?
Ellie is a cashier, freelance writer and blogger from South Carolina. Her favorite things are her family, friends, writing, cats and many other crafty pursuits. As a child, she was on a local TV kids show. She told the host that she wanted to be a butterfly or a writer when she grew up. As an adult she is very glad she’s not a butterfly.