Sick Leave: A Year of Living Horizontally – A ReBlog

I came across a blog post entitled
Sick Leave: A Year of Living Horizontally 
by Anna Barnes
when it was shared on Facebook earlier today.

It’s been in my mind all day because of how closely the author’s story resembles my journey to find a diagnosis over the years. Although it’s not my own personal story, I felt like the author put my life into words in such a way that I have never been able to explain or portray.

In particular, it was these parts of the article that really spoke to me:

“What should I tell my workplace? I asked her in tears

She shrugged.”

“The doctor smiled – it wasn’t MS. We all hugged and everyone started to leave the doctor’s office.

But, hold on, I protested, hold on, what is it then?

Everyone in the room scowled at me. It wasn’t MS, and there I was wanting more.”

“Two weeks later I went back to the GP for another medical certificate and was told my illness was probably caused by anxiety and that there was nothing more they could do for me. I called my mum, furious, and she told me to calm down. She said that anxiety wasn’t anything to be ashamed of. I told her that I knew that but that this wasn’t anxiety. She told me I sounded crazy.”

“On bad days the fear is real.

There have been times in the past year that I felt like I might be dying. When my stomach started bleeding, when I pissed myself involuntarily, when my leg went into paralysis – those were the moments when I started to worry that maybe something was seriously wrong. But without knowing what it was, I was simply left with a cluster of ever-evolving symptoms that seemed to fit similar mystery illnesses that my housemate’s aunty or boyfriend’s mother or that woman from accounting at work had.”

“In that first long stretch of sick I willed myself to be better. Told that I was simply suffering from panic attacks, I would force myself to walk, to go to work, to go to the supermarket. Crying from frustration at another abandoned supermarket trip, I would ask myself why I was so anxious when I stood up. Nothing made sense to me anymore. I wondered if I had become acrophobic without realising.”

“I am not, and I don’t think I ever will be, comfortable with the idea of fainting in public….

Being dizzy in public (DIP) is like a slap in the face to me by my condition, goading me with cries of, ‘You thought you were well enough to go to the supermarket/pub/work/toilet, well, think again.’ “

“With sympathy in his voice he told me ‘that it all might be a bit much for me to take in right now’. I beamed and told him I wanted to hug him. And while that might seem like a strange response to someone telling you that you have a chronic condition, he said that a lot of people have that reaction.”

“I guess this is the bit where I talk about friends. This is a topic that always comes up for people with chronic illness. Being sick is a good way to lose contact with friends. Being sick chronically is a great way to lose friends.”

“To some I would just explain I was feeling ‘ugh’ and had been quite sick. Ugh was a word that seemed to spell out the frustration and feelings I felt at the time when the doctors had no real words. To others I overcompensated with lengthy explanations of my medical issues in the hope of some understanding or sympathy and was left, perhaps unsurprisingly, with a ‘Well, feel better,’ three-word response. Until the doctors gave me language to communicate what my body was doing I really struggled to do it myself.”

“I have got used to entertaining from the couch. I’ve learnt that some people are comfortable with sickness. They are the ones that don’t need to fix you or tell you how you can heal yourself by cutting out gluten, or continually worry they will tire you out by visiting. They just sit down on the couch and watch YouTube with you.”

“Those desperate medical Nancy Drew moments tend to come over me after another relapse. When I miss Christmas day, again. When I miss my birthday, again. The true horror of returning to the prison of this illness after spending a month working, socialising and exercising like a near normal person is indescribable.”

“I own the condition now, and wear it like a worn leather belt.”

This article was retrieved from All credit for this blog post goes to the author, Anna Barnes.

2 thoughts on “Sick Leave: A Year of Living Horizontally – A ReBlog

    • Undiagnosed Warrior says:

      Right? ! ? It brings tears to your eyes because this article states exactly what it is to actually FEEL what it is like to BE sick. I’ve known that others have gone through similar situations with finding their diagnosis, but I felt like even those who are not sick could easily see the transition from fear to anxiety, to hope and acceptance.

      Liked by 1 person

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