Taub: You know, he just doesn't want to live in pain.

House: Life is pain! I wake up every morning in pain! Work is pain! You know how many times I wanted to give up? How many times I've thought about ending it?

-House, MD

Season 8, Episode 21, "Holding On."

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Becky. You probably know me better as Patient 8274-82 or "that drug-seeker in Room 87," but I have a name - a real one.

I also have an invisible illness.

Migraines.

I know, real imaginative, right? Like, I should have the decency to pick a different imaginary "illness" to have, right? Maybe one that gives me a natty cane or a sling or one of those cool braces? THEN maybe I'd be seen!

Oh wait.

Nevermind. I forgot about the time I busted my foot when I was eight months pregnant with my daughter and got stuck in Das Boot? People treated me like I had somehow dropped my IQ by at least 100. Cashiers would scream in a slow, dumbed down voice, like I was not only as stupid as a box of nails, but also deaf.

Other people would stare at The Daver and my two sons and cluck-cluck at me as they shook their head - like "Oh, look at that poor guy - he knocked up the village idiot."

But at least then I had something to point at - there, it hurts THERE. I can't very well point at my head and be like, "It feels like it's stuck in a particularly rusty vice. Every day. All day."

Or I guess I could - I could tell people what I *really* feel - but then what do I get?

A husband ready to wash his hands of me because, well, who wants to deal with Migraine Chick? Can you blame him? Can you?

I don't know if I can.

But I do know that it hurts to be thought of as a burden. At thirty-one, I'm a burden to those around me.

But you, nameless Doctor in the Urgent Care, you wouldn't know that. All you know is that you found me in Exam Room 7B with the lights off, tears pouring out of my eyes, as I tell you that I, once again, have a migraine. It's off-hours, my neuro isn't around to help me, so you see...

You check my chart, see that I've been to the clinic in the past, and you form an idea about me. I'm clearly a drug seeker - you tell me as much.

I leave the clinic humiliated, ashamed, and what's worse? My migraine has now turned the crank to 11 and is all, "You're my bitch."

Or maybe you see me at the pharmacy, hollow-eyed from a headache I've had for going on a week, asking if my prescription is ready. Hoping that it is, but knowing that I don't dare look too desperate, too in pain, because hello drug seeker!

I've been called an addict before. In person. On paper. By my very own brother.

As the adult child of two alcoholics, you can imagine how hard a pill (punny, right?) that is for me to swallow (see what I did there?).

Maybe some of you can.

Maybe some of you can imagine that those of us who deal with invisible illnesses have been in that dark, dark place - the place we don't often speak of, even to those who are the very closest to us. The dark, dark place in a dark, dark house in a dark, dark corner of our minds. That place. The place that whispers, "Hey, maybe everyone would be better if you gave in. Maybe it'd be easier for everyone if you just weren't here anymore."

The days when that voice creeps in, when the pain has been a steady nine and nothing - nothing at all - helps, those are the bad days.

Other days, we get up and face the day, full of determination that we'll manage to get things done. Start this. Finish that.

That's life at a six. A six has pain - but a six offers hope.

But you, you behind the phone at the doctor's office as I call to see what's up with my medication refill request, you who hangs up on me when I request that you speak (once again) to my doctor, you wouldn't know about those dark, dark spaces.

Not many do.

But those of us who struggle to get through each moment of each day; who wonder if ending it would actually be a blessing; who feel as though they are a burden; whose illnesses are very, very real and very, very invisible - we know.

But you, you do not know. Not you behind the pharmacy. Not you in the ER. Not you in Urgent Care. And certainly not you at my doctor's office.

I'm just another person with an annoying problem you don't want to deal with.

Here's the thing, though.

This bitch? This one here with an invisible illness? With "pain?"

This here bitch has teeth. And claws. And? She's not afraid to use them. I may have an invisible illness, but, motherfucker, I am not invisible. And if you try to treat me like I am? I will bite.

You best be watching your back.

Love Always,

Your Aunt Becky (or patient number 8274-82)

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