Living Life with an Invisible Illness: Cadee’s Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Story
Cadee Kulm was in her teens when she started having unusual pain. After months of trying to figure out what was going on, she was finally diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).
In the past few years, people have started having more conversations about what it's like to live with an invisible illness. However, what they don't always talk about is the struggles that come with it.
Being diagnosed with any sort of disease or syndrome at any age is hard to explain to others. However, some people don't understand while they can't physically see a change in you, there are changes going on inside. For her, that means feeling tired more often and sometimes when she eats, it even feels like knives in her stomach. That's just where it starts.
Living with an illness can be difficult to make friends or even keep them. It takes someone understanding to stick around.
"Some might try and act like they understand but they can't feel the same sort of pain. They can't see when I'm exhausted," Kulm said. "I've tried making friends, but sometimes it's almost a waste of time. They don't understand and they don't want to understand, almost."
Kulm said she'll happily ask any questions when it's someone she's just met. However, when it starts to get repetitive about trying to explain it to the same person over and over, that's where it's difficult.
"Especially when you have multiple things going on. Then they're kinda like is that real?" Kulm said.
While she tries her best with friendships, the understanding of invisible illness can still be hard.
"They also don't understand how hard it is to get me out of the house," she said. "So going to the mall and shopping for an hour, that's hard for me. That's like walking up Mount Everest for me."
She said it can be almost heartbreaking when friends don't realize how hard it is for her to do something. Thankfully, with social media, Kulm said she's been able to connect with people who have the same invisible illness as her on Instagram.
"I can talk to them for understanding and they're not comparing things," Kulm said.
Kulm said her conditions have caused her to mature a lot quicker.
"I have an easier time hanging out with my mom and grandparents than people my own age," Kulm said.
While social media is great, let's not forget that the internet is also a great tool to research different invisible illnesses to better understand someone who has them. You can read more about CRPS here.