Woman With Chronic Condition Shares The Problem With Saying 'You Don't Look Ill'

'I will thrive and live on my hard days and I’ll thrive and live on my easier days - I’ll just do it differently.'

Milly Smith has had enough of people telling her she doesn’t look ill.

The Instagram influencer, who can often be found raising awareness of mental and chronic illness to her 170k followers, has shed some light on what it’s like to live with a chronic condition that’s invisible to others.

She shared before and after photos of herself on Instagram (@SelfLoveClubb) with and without makeup, with different facial expressions, and explained that both photos were taken when she was experiencing pain caused by endometriosis.

“Chronic illness/pain presents itself differently on different days/hours,” she wrote. “Just like depression, seeing someone function better on one day does not mean they are no longer depressed - likewise with chronic illness.”

Milly explained that sometimes she has energy and a high tolerance for pain, while on other days she can barely get out of bed.

On top of that, she feels like she has to regularly justify her illness to others because it can’t physically be seen.

“Chronic illness affects my life in ways that anger me, upset me and damn right depress me some days, so to justify myself and my pain to others is just not something I will be doing anymore,” she said.

“I will thrive and live on my hard days and I’ll thrive and live on my easier days - I’ll just do it differently.”

Endometriosis is a common condition affecting one in 10 women, where tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb is found outside of the womb. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe.

Milly told HuffPost UK: “Endometriosis is often misunderstood as just a painful period yet it affects your whole life. It causes fatigue, muscle weakness, low moods, heavy bleeding and awful pain constantly.”

It’s not the first time Milly has had to clear up misconceptions around appearance and illness. A week ago she shared a photo which she’d taken just seven hours before attempting suicide.

In the photo she can be seen with makeup on, her hair done and a huge smile on her face.

Milly, who lives with borderline personality disorder (BPD), wrote: “I had no idea I’d try to take my own life in the morning, I was smiling and loved the way my hair looked hence the selfie.”

She explained that having borderline personality disorder can result in her mood switching from happy to suicidal due to the “slightest trigger”.

“Suicidal isn’t just crying, for those with a troubled life and long build-ups to breaking point,” she explained.

“It’s also snap decisions made whilst your son sleeps in the same house and your loving partner kissed you goodnight hours before.

“We need to learn how suicidal tendencies can present themselves beyond our ignorance to the topic. By listening and learning even the tiniest triggers/signs we can save lives.”

Useful websites and helplines:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
  • Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: help@getconnected.org.uk