Saturday, January 9, 2016

Why am I wearing sunglasses inside?

As a long term, late stage Lyme Disease patient over the past 9 years I have had one constant symptom for most of my life, photosensitivity.  It's rare you find me without sunglasses on my face or head.  Whether it's rain, snow, sleet, cloudy or sunshine, my sunglasses are on inside my house, stores or outside.  I so often see people wondering why the heck I am wearing sunglasses inside a store.  People stare, make comments to a friend or give me strange looks.  No I'm not trying to look cool or pretend I'm a celebrity.  I live in Maine not California.  But I'm doing my best to get through a store with fluorescent lighting, noise, crowds, strong smells, and narrow aisles.  I'm doing my best to cope with all that input.  The sensory overload can be overwhelming, embarrassing and down right frustrating to someone like myself with chronic illness.  It feels like a full body assault and I'm doing my best to cope.  Sometimes if I can block out the bright lights I can kind of cope a little better with all the other input, remember why the hell in in the store, get my items and hopefully quickly get out of there.  I often like to wear my sunglasses with my ear spuds in, listening to calming music.  Sometimes I need that combo to help me focus better.  I'd rather wear my sunglasses than go home dizzy with a headache, migraine, exhaustion, full body pain, and fog brain.  Could you imagine that something as simple as light could tax you're body to the point where either you avoid the stores or go in with anxiety hoping you can handle it and wondering how you will feel after?  Invisible chronic illness is unpredictable, flares, and down right limiting.  So if you see someone inside a store with a hat, sunglasses, listening to music, unable to process the moment please be extra kind.  That person is working extra hard just to do something so basic and so needed.  They are using up all their spoons just to get items and go home and be toasted for the rest of the day.  A store is dreaded already, the looks by others avoided, anxiety high, a person in this state doesn't needed any added stress.  Just kind understanding.  So instead of staring or wondering why, just know that person wearing sunglasses inside on a rainy day is doing the best they can, with what they have, where they are.  It's an adaptive device helping them cope and survive.