There are, however, lots of illnesses that we can't see right off the bat, and it took me a while to realize this.
As a child I was raised in an incredibly religious family which meant that our every week was filled with, not only school activities, but with many events centered around our religion.
And then, I got sick. Not with a wicked case of the flu, but with the kind of illness that leaves you passed out on the bathroom floor and eventually in the hospital for a good while. Prior to this, I'd found myself all of a sudden, incredibly depressed, and I had no idea how to deal with my emotions as well as the weakness that seemed to be taking hold of me physically. Everything was happening all at once and it was confusing. That's why I didn't deal with it, I simply ignored it and kept going.
It was during this time that I drove sixteen hours straight from Louisiana to Florida for a religious meeting that I would've felt guilty about missing. I spent a good bit of that drive sobbing while my passenger (a Deaf lady with Autism) watched me and gently pat my shoulder every now and then. In retrospect, I'm sure it was a pretty pathetic sight... I knew something was wrong with me (duh) and I thought that maybe this was because I wasn't trying hard enough, so I just kept going. And then bam-hospital.
I know now that I should have stopped to take care of myself instead of constantly putting other people's expectations before my own health. Yes, it's good to be kind and do right by other people, but believing myself to be some kind of all-powerful superwoman for whom perfection was possible if she did everything everyone wanted was a huge mistake. That's why now, when I don't feel well, I don't drag myself out of bed to go have a bible study with someone who lives two hours away, I stay home and rest.
And I've learned that you can't always tell when someone's sick, because make up and nice clothes can do amazing things : ) That's why when a friend says they're not feeling well or that they need to take a break and stay in, I get it. Even if they look great as they say, "I'm really sad today, so I just want to stay home," the thing that they're saying trumps the way they look. And instead of judging them, I realize that the right thing to do is to simply make sure they know they have my support.
It took me a while to figure that one out, but I get it now : )