"What do you see when you look at me? Is what you see, the real me?" Alexandra Prasser

“What do you see when you look at me? Is what you see, the real me?” Alexandra Prasser


What do you see when you look at me? Is what you see, the real me? 

I am the world’s greatest actress. Like my disease, I am the great pretender. So, for a few hours here and there, I pretend that my world is normal and that my life is that of a regular, healthy teenage girl. 

You see me smile and laugh like a typical teenager.

What you don’t see is a girl who battles daily to be more than her disease allows. 

You see a girl in the prime of her life with a world of possibilities ahead.

What you don’t see is …



You see a girl taking notes, writing with a wrist brace.

What you don’t see is my disease affecting my joints, making the pain in my wrists so bad that I cannot write without the help of the brace.



You see a student who comes to class but who intermittently closes her eyes and seems to zone out.

What you don’t see is the blinding pain behind my eyes and the daily headaches that make it hard for me to concentrate or look at things for any length of time without the need to close my eyes. You don’t see the three-hour nap I need when I get home from class just to function.



You see a classmate who is excited to work on a group project but who misses days at a time and is only able to contribute to the team through texts, emails, or submitted documents.

What you don’t see is me fighting to contribute to the project despite daily crushing fatigue, headaches, nausea, and dizziness.



You see a girl who comes to class but who often sits by herself, seeming not to be part of any group or club, or social gathering.

What you don’t see is that I have been a part of your class all along. My illness forces me to miss so much school that I no longer have a place. The social groups have formed, seats have been taken, and there is no room for me. I’m not unsociable; I’m just simply invisible and hidden from view.



You see a picture of a girl in your yearbook and say you don’t remember her, “Was she in my class or maybe a club?”

What you haven’t seen is that I was a student in your class, and I tried to be a part of your world. Instead, my illness caused me to miss more and more.

I’m still a student, but I am relegated to online school at home, trying to balance my debilitating illness with my desire to finish high school ─ someday. I’m not surprised you don’t remember me; you never had the chance to get to know me … and now I’m forgotten.

 Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You. (Psalm 38:9)

Happy Bubbles
Alexandra Prasser

Alexandra Prasser

Alexandra is a student at Calvin University majoring in computer science with a minor in Japanese. She has been battling chronic illness since 2011. She hopes that her experiences can help those in similar circumstances and for them to know that they are not alone in their struggles.

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With chronic illness, every day is an adventure!  It isn't a life we would have chosen, but it is one we're learning to walk through with courage, tenacity, humor, and grace. We are so much more than our illnesses!

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