The Elephant in the Room

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

I am sure that anyone who has dealt with or is dealing with any form of chronic illness can relate it to having an elephant right there with them in a social situation. Even medical situations such as the hospital, doctor’s office, etc. can produce stigma the size of a pachyderm.

You think that you are hiding symptoms well; however, the more you try to hide, it keeps getting bigger and harder to ignore. “It” can be a pain, depression, anxiety, internal problems, and just about anything else.

I have learned to own my elephant and introduce it to whoever is with me before they bring it up. This seems to break the ice and gives them a chance to ask questions or walk away. I have had people do both and I am fine with it because at least I am honest and open.

But it wasn’t always like that. I was brought up to hide things that were outside of the “norm.”This included my IBS, anxiety over being bullied, cramps (and everything that went with them – it was “the flu” which I had once a month), and even my migraines. I really believe that all this hiding contributed to several more physical conditions and my bipolar/depression.

These days it really cuts me to the bone to see young people trying to hide or ignore their elephants. And the treatment given at ER’s…well I think you all know my stance on that.

A young woman I met recently shared with me that she suffers from Anxiety Disorder. When I told her I did too she said, “but you are older, I am only 16.” To which I replied, “I was first depressed when I was 8 and at 16 developed anxiety and bipolar.” She instantly relaxed and now talks to me every chance she gets.

This not to say that naming your elephant doesn’t sometimes bring consequences. I have shared information about my chronic illnesses only to have it thrown back in my face. However, this usually makes me stronger and I have learned to wipe it off and keep on going. It means THEY are the ones that are intimidated by the elephant.

Personally, I have always considered elephants to be beautiful and majestic animals with strength and grace. I know it is hard to think of your illnesses in that light; however, if you see yourself that way, others will do the same and the elephant will fade into the corner.



11 Replies to “The Elephant in the Room”

  1. Great truthful read Lydia. What came to mind for me reading this was a loud voice in my head yelling, SHE IS NOT HER ELEPHANT! Knowing you well, I know your elephant isn’t you. It’s a piece you live with daily. The other thought I had was, I wonder what colour her elephant is. ♥️

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I recently had a stint in hospital with an intestinal blockage resulting from scar tissue from an surgery years ago. I am home, I am carrying on. I am on the low fiber diet. But….not an elephant exactly but I now have fear. Fear that the blockage and the excruciating pain and the hospital ER etc will come back at some point. Just when I least expect it. It has put a bit of a dint into my armour. I talk to my husband about it and that helps. Thanks for this post Lydia.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are most welcome, Anne. And this is most definitely an elephant for you – a fear that is real and you are afraid others will not understand. I know about having surgeries to clean up surgeries and yes, it is scary not knowing if it will happen again. If you ever need someone just to talk to, send a message on my contact form and we can email.


    1. Thanks, Brenda. I first went public about my bipolar disorder at my church. The Pastor asked if he could interview me as part of their “Getting to Know You” series. I said yes, as long as I could be very honest. His sister suffered from it and so he said if I was ready for what could come of it, then sure. Well, this was about 20 years ago and many people came up and said how brave I was, another group asked me questions or said they knew someone with it. Then of course there was the group that took a wide berth around me, criticized me, and called me out if I so much as sneezed out of turn. It is funny but over the years the last group dwindled down as they saw how strong I really was. I can even call one of the biggest nay-sayers a beloved friend now. She came to me to talk about her baby elephant, a brief bout with depression. Blessings to you as well.

      Liked by 1 person

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