The Side of Me Most People Don’t See

Brittany Foster avatar

by Brittany Foster |

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Living with chronic illness has made me more aware of the complexity of emotions that go along with health management. There are parts of me that I am not afraid to show and parts that I keep hidden.

The side that most people know is optimistic and hopeful. It’s the side that allows me to feel like I have a voice. It allows me to advocate for myself and for others. This part of me helps me acknowledge my mental and physical health without shame.

It is the side most medical professionals see in my hospital room or during an office visit. It is the side I show most often on my social media accounts. Most people see the girl who has “been through a lot,” but is overcoming it and “handling it well.”

The other side is what isn’t seen as often. It comes out in front of trusted medical professionals and those closest to me. These are the emotions I keep inside until I can’t anymore. Most people aren’t aware of my crippling fear of the unknown. They don’t know the anxiety that keeps me up at night. Most people don’t see this side because it’s a part of me that doesn’t feel like “me” at all. 

The side that others don’t see is hidden by a brave and positive exterior. It’s hidden by inspirational quotes or a photo caption highlighting my strength during the hardest of circumstances. In my pictures, people see my smile after leaving the hospital, even if it’s forced. What I don’t let everyone see are the sleepless nights and the panic that woke me up at 3 a.m. Others wouldn’t know that I needed Ativan (lorazepam) through an IV multiple times during a hospitalization just to get a few hours of a false sense of calm. 

This part of me is hard to write about. But even though it is hard to reveal so much about my emotions, it’s the real, messy, and confusing reality of living with chronic conditions. It is hard for people who care about me to see me at my most vulnerable. The truth is, the side of me that most people don’t see is also a source of my strength and bravery. 

People don’t always see how hard it is to get the other side of “me” back. The side of me that is upbeat and optimistic doesn’t happen with as much ease as one might imagine from my social media posts.

With chronic health conditions that bring about various health scares, it’s impossible for me not to have intense emotional breakdowns. As hard as it is to live with depression, anxiety, and fear of what’s to come, getting through these feelings and acknowledging them allows me to move forward.


Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


Susan Bachar avatar

Susan Bachar

Hi Brittany, I lost my 27 year old daughter to PH 3 years ago but it feels like yesterday. Reading your article brought back memories of my Aly, so brave and strong, but I'm sure hiding so much fear and anxiety. She was fortunate to have lived quite normally with PH for 25 years, spending very little time in the hospital(only several bouts with pneumonia)and no obvious signs of her illness. But she knew what she had would ultimately be terminal or end with a double lung transplant. She rarely talked about it and rarely showed this side of herself to anyone, even her closest friends and family, because she did not want to upset us or cause us pain. It breaks my heart to think that she kept so much emotional pain and anguish to herself in order to spare us. I just wish she had shared her burden more. That's what family and friends are for. Don't hide that side of yourself from them; they really do want and need to see it.

Brittany Foster avatar

Brittany Foster

It means so much to me that you reached out to me here and shared your story and your daughter's story. It must be comforting in a way to hear some of what she was going through in other's words. I can't even imagine the loss you must feel but please know that the PH community will always be of support for you! I hope you continue to read our columns and that you find some comfort in knowing that you're not alone. Thank you so much for your advice and I definitely will continue to be open about it especially to my family and close friends. Your comment is so appreciated.

MamaBear007 avatar


Brittany, thank you for lowering your guard enough to share this very vulnerable part of you. You have no idea how many people this will help, but today it helped me. 💗

Brittany Foster avatar

Brittany Foster

I am so glad that my words could help you and that you are able to relate. I hope it will continue to help others share their story and not be afraid to be open about their struggles.

Gayle avatar


Brittany thank you for sharing you experience. I am a cancer survivor as well as struggling with PH. We all have those feelings at times. Having an outlet to verbalize those feeling make such a difference. You are a inspiration to me.

Brittany Foster avatar

Brittany Foster

Thank you so much for your comment. YOU are an inspiration too. I can't even imagine being both a cancer survivor and having PH . I give you so much credit for all you have been able to overcome and all that you will continue to fight through! Keep on keeping on !

Denise Thompson avatar

Denise Thompson

Thank you, Brittany. I was looking for someone that shared my emotional difficuties & I found you. I guess I'm somewhere between stage 3 & 4. I'm planning my last trip to see family & a brave face is required. Everyone is afraid of the unknown. I know there's more beyond this & I'm trying to see what's coming as a wonderous adventure, it's just so hard sometimes.


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