The Evil Stepsisters Of Chronic Illness

A light-hearted look at some very dark, debilitating problems.

In case you haven’t met them yet, or you have and didn’t know they were part of a bigger family, I thought I’d take a moment to introduce you.


the evil stepsisters of chronic illness

Foggy Fran

  • She’s the one that interrupts your thoughts. When you’re mid-sentence she’s going to slide into the conversation and make you draw a blank. While focused on a task she’s going to jump in and grab your train of thought and run away with it. We aren’t positive where she comes from. She may be a result of pain – you know, it’s hard to focus on a conversation if someone is stabbing you in the thigh with a knife. Or maybe she comes around after a few of the other girls (depression and fatigue) have been visiting for a while.

Fiona Fatigue

  • Oh, Fiona. I think I dislike her most of all. Before getting out of bed in the morning she’s there, grabbing your energy supply and running off like a toddler. She jumps up for a piggy-back ride so as you walk through the day you’re carrying her weight as well. Each step twice as difficult as when you were healthy. By lunch time the added weight has you feeling like a zombie, dragging along as you walk. Sometimes she fastens anchors to your arms and legs and leaves you immobile. Then the catch 22 begins: too tired to move = not being able to move = stopping you from exercising your muscles which would give you more energy. She often leaves you with a sore throat, headache or other illness that comes back time and time again. A horrible child that Fiona is!

Isabelle Insomnia

  • As a child, we were scared of the boogie man living under our bed. Well, that’s Isabelle. She runs in and hides before you get under the covers with the sheer goal of keeping you awake all night. She’s very aware of your sleep cycle – all 5 stages and the 90 minutes it takes to get you to a restorative sleep. While you’re in stage one your muscles and brain are still active. In stage two your muscles are supposed to relax and only your brain keeps going. That’s when she lets all the bed bugs loose to crawl up and down your legs so that you can’t stay still. Once stage three hits, you should be experiencing gentle waves taking you deeper into sleep. But she’s there. Whispering in your ear to keep your mind active and tapping on your arms and legs to keep your muscles alert. Stage five is where you can dream, your body can repair tissue and illness damage, and your body releases serotonin to decrease pain – but she won’t let you linger there long. She gets vicious and starts to punch you in the arm and talk out loud until she has you fully awake. She’s a mean girl.

Iris IBS

  • She’s the potty talker of the group. Test after test will prove there is nothing wrong with your intestinal tract. She, however, sits with her voodoo doll made in your likeness and squeezes your stomach to cause you pain. She will constipate you one day and make you run like the wind to the bathroom the next. She keeps you bloated and irritated. You don’t tend to talk about her much – we like to keep her hidden from everyone we know.

Dana Depression

  • She’s always there. Sometimes in the background. Sometimes making a grand appearance. She will whisper stories in your ear of the life you once lived and list all the things you’re missing out on. Her happiest days are when she can get you to stay in bed and talk about gloom and doom. She’ll try to convince you that seeing life through her eyes isn’t looking through a fog of depression – it’s actually lifting the fog and seeing things clearly. She’s absolutely wrong! If you try to tell her of all the things you can still do to have a happy, productive life, she’ll go nuts and scream at the top of her lungs. Reminding you of all the would-haves/could-haves/should-haves of a healthy life gone sour.

Diana Dependency

  • Three is never a crowd with Diana. As a matter of fact, she doesn’t seem to enjoy the time when it’s just the two of you. She’ll dig her heels into the ground or grab onto the chair for all she’s worth until you’re forced to ask someone to come and help you. She weighs down your limbs and sucks your energy. It gives her great pleasure to see you uncomfortable and sad as you watch people do jobs for you that you’d much rather do for yourself.

Glenda Guilt

  • She’s the bully of the group. You’ll often find her introducing you to Dana Depression but even on her own, she’s a mighty foe. She will taunt you every time you have to say no to a request or cancel an appointment. She walks around the house and picks up every item out of place and tells you to get your act together. She thrives on Pinterest images of perfection and is determined you are not living up to your full potential. Her greatest pleasure is comparing you to others that she feels are much better moms/wives/sisters/friends.


There you have it.

There are a few other cousins in the bunch, but these seven tend to stand out above the rest. The hardest job you’ll ever have is keeping them in control! Praying you have the strength to contain them!



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18 thoughts on “The Evil Stepsisters Of Chronic Illness

  1. I am becoming acquainted with these ladies, and there’s the invisible sister who remains nameless-just like my diagnosis. “We know what you are experiencing is very real, but the test results say you are healthy…”

    • Yes, she’s awful! she’s the one who makes everyone doubt what you have to say at times. 🙁 Too often we hear the, “but you don’t look sick” or “the test came back normal.” I wish you didn’t have to experience these nasty women Christy!

    • Wishing you the best Christy. I hope u get diagnosed soon. Atleast then it can be treated.

      I was diagnosed at the age of 16. 26 now so ten years with this horrible disease. So hardly had a proper teen/20’s life so I know these sisters well 🙁

      • So sorry to hear how long you’ve had to live with this illness.

        These sisters are awful aren’t they. 🙁

  2. this entire article hits on every symptom…… Sometimes I think it’s just be because no one understands. I’m at the point where I really can’t handle another day…. This is so much to carry around. I really think that the doctors don’t know what to do and too lazy to research.. Thank you for the article

    • You’re welcome, Angela! You’re not in this alone! It took me years to find a doctor that would listen to me at my appointments and try to understand. Eventually, I took my husband to an appointment and the doctor seemed to take me a bit more seriously then. Needless to say, he may have connected me with the specialist that diagnosed me, but that was the last time I saw him! It took two more drs until I ended up with one I like and seems to truly care about me!
      Hang in there! You have a whole community here to help you!

  3. I have been living with these ladies since I was a kid. Due to child obesity then adult morbid obesity no doctor ever bothered to test me no matter how much I cried and said something was wrong. I went to Chiropractors; acupuncture; holistic treatments, Rheumatologists, and tried every diet in the book. Then went to do something for myself and get weight loss surgery. After 100 lbs came off and the pain got worse they finally started testing. Now I came back with a diagnosis of Mixed Connective Tissue Disease. No one seems to understand what that is because Fibro and Lupus are more common. MCTD is like taking the worst of Lupus, Fibro, and every other autoimmune disease mixed up in a big pot; you cry, you want to die, and no one will believes you have something wrong. There’s no pills that are directly related to help. All you can do is pray that when you wake up in the morning it’s better than the day before. Seeing this article means someone out there gets it, even though it’s about all chronic pain. So thank you; thank you for making me feel like I’m not alone.

    • Sorry I’m just getting back to you! My computer kicked the bucket.
      I’m so sorry you have to live with that dreadful disease. It’s so hard for others to understand because when they look at us they don’t “see” anything wrong. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! There are times when there isn’t a person in close proximity to share our story and trials with, but thanks to the internet we can find comfort and community with others who truly get it. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ll keep in touch! (hugs)

  4. Thanks for writing this post – humor helps! I am well acquainted with all these ladies, unfortunately, and feel that you described them brilliantly! Good job.

    • Thank you for stopping by to read Jyl. I’m quite familiar with all of these ladies and some days you just need to keep your sense of humor. 🙂

  5. Fiona Fatigue and Glenda Guilt made a grand appearance for me recently. On a particularly bad day, I fell asleep on the couch right after lunch. When I awoke, I realized my almost-6-year-old—who shares my disorder and also suffers fatigue—had put himself down for a nap because he didn’t want to wake me. I felt terrible about that, yet when he woke up, he thought it was funny that “we were taking a nap together, just in different places.” How I needed his perspective!

    • Sounds like he has a good handle on when he needs to rest too! You’re setting a good example. Give yourself grace and kick Glenda Guilt to the curb! 🙂