Does my Pharmacist think I’m a drug addict? Or Chronic invisible illness and the people who think you’re full of shit

I take a ridiculous amount of medication at the moment. This requires not infrequent trips to the pharmacy to fill what feels like an endless ticker tape of prescriptions to assuade the reactions, side effects and physical manifestations of my illness into submission. I often wonder if people think I am making it all up. Do they think I’m just a total hypochondriac? Ironically one of the few anxiety related illnesses I do not have.

Pile of blister packs, pill bottles and loose capsules

Believe me when I tell you I don’t take this many pills for fun.

While I was working at a restaurant in London, my rather uneducated and unsympathetic boss told me he thought all the pills I took were the problem rather than the solution. That I was “all messed up and should lay off the pills”. I tried my best to make him understand that if I didn’t take the medications prescribed to me I would be unable to leave my house and travel the 45 minutes on the underground each day to work. Thus he would have to find some other chump to manage his customers and corral his light fingered staff on a daily basis. He just refused to understand that the medication I took treated my symptoms but would not cure my disorders. They are here for keeps. There is no “cure”, or fix for a chronic disorder. I guess he didn’t know what chronic meant.

Even some Doctors are suspicious and rude when they should be understanding. I have had more than one (male doctor I hate to admit) call me a drug addict and ignore the previous diagnoses I come armed with. Once upon a time I took up Mr-Doctor’s advice in relation to my apparent drug reliance and went along to a drug counselling service. After one session the red-haired lady looked at me with kind eyes and said “You’re aware you’re not a drug addict aren’t you?” “Yes. I am well aware” I admitted. “The meds you take are just a band-aid to ease the symptoms aren’t they? You have no physical dependence on them do you?” “Yep. That is exactly what I told the Doctor-man but he refused to believe me.” I replied. “What a fucking dickhead” she said without trying to hide her disdain. That last bit may not have happened in real life.

My way of coping is to make inappropriate jokes and to over explain everything, even if it gets really gross. When you tell someone you get bouts of nausea and vomiting so bad that you throw up bile they may not believe just how bad it is until they have to listen to your retching for an hour through the wall while trying to play a board game.

How did I deal with that slightly awkward situation? I made jokes about bulimia and how I might have caught ebola from a stray dog, then excuse myself and take a long shower.



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