The Invisible Illnesses

You can’t see what’s wrong with me.

After some time, you may start to notice my moods shift. You may come to realize that I’m not wired like most people. But you can’t see what’s wrong with me.

He was probably in his forties. His balding head gave him the look of someone older. The fanny pack clutching his waist was worn, faded leather.

He sat in front of me. The doors shut and the driver pulled away, as he got up.


Down again. Back up. Different seat.

“Sir. You have to sit down or you’ll get hurt.”

He sat.

Sternly, he pointed a finger in his own face.

“No More. No More. No More.”

He tried to still himself, muttering. He sat on his hands. His tics got more exaggerated.

“No. More.”

He rang the bell but didn’t get off. Different seat.


He wasn’t trying to be difficult. In fact, from my point of view he was trying pretty hard not to be disruptive.

“Sir. I’m not going to ask you again to stay in your seat or you’ll have to leave the bus.”

He hopped to his feet.

“Smarten up, buddy,” piped in a passenger.

Why was I the only person who could see the struggle?

I couldn’t stand it.

“I really don’t think he’s doing this on purpose. I don’t think he can help it.”

It was the only time he ever made eye contact, but it was like he couldn’t even find me.

He banged on the windows.

No. More.

Transit security.

“You need to come with me off this bus and we’ll get you on a new bus. You can’t stay here.”

“But I have to.”

“You come with me or you’ll be detained by the Port Moody police department.”

“What’s detained?”

“It means they won’t let you go.”

He followed the officer out.

My frustration boiled up inside me. Here’s a man with obvious mental health issues who can’t find a sympathetic soul. No one seemed to understand, just wanted to remove this person who made them uncomfortable.

What about compassion? Where was it?

Isn’t the bus supposed to help everyone get where they’re going?

I just keep thinking that you can’t see what’s wrong with me. Stay awhile and you’ll learn, but you can’t see it from the driver’s seat.

How lucky I am to have an invisible illness.


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