Dear World,

“Sorry, your results say you’re perfectly healthy. There isn’t much we can do for you.”


I sit on this couch, and I don’t know where to start. I take in the decorative mirror hanging on the wall across from me. Who am I now?

I’ve always seen myself as semi- athletic. The one who liked going on the more difficult hikes and marched miles in marching band. I’ve always pushed myself not to give up. I take a deep breath and grip my knees as I get ready to share my story with this new therapist.

I struggle to do this, not because I’ve ever had a problem revealing my motivations and experiences before, but because I have to accept I am new kind of person. My new self has a chronic illness. One that causes constant pains all over my body.


I’m scared, I tell my therapist. “I fear being left behind and becoming invisible, just like this illness.” I’m forced to stop because the tears are falling and my throat is tight trying to keep them back. The last thing I can squeeze out was “I wish they would’ve listened to me.”

For years I was in constant, undiagnosed pain. It worsened the older I got. Over the years, the only remedy I was ever prescribed from medical professionals was a dose of unhelpful painkillers. I would ask for help and the response would be: “Sorry, your results say you’re perfectly healthy. There isn’t much we can do for you.”

When I explained my pain to friends, family, or coworkers, no one understood. Some people even suggested it may ‘all be in my head’. On the outside I seemed healthy, strong, and youthful, yet every day my muscles and bones ached as if I was many years older than I actually am. The illness began affected every aspect of my life, and so began to take a toll on my mental health. I felt isolated, invisible to the rest of society.

Then I sat on the soft couch, across from the therapist who listened intently to what I had to say. They didn’t tell me I was delusional. They mademe feel less alone, and suddenly I felt, for the first time in a long time, relief and belonging. You don’t need all the answers; sometimes you just have to listen. 


I Wish They Would’ve
Listened To Me

Support this photographer:
Fabiola Lopez ︎   @flo_photographs︎ Venmo


About the Photographer: Fabiola Lopez is a Latina photographer, born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. Her passion for photography began at a young age and has continued to grow and expand over the years, broadening her creative skills and projects. Fabiola enjoys photographing people – whether it’s in a studio or out on the streets – and likes to document her community as well, creating visual representations of social issues that are significant to society-at-large. 

About the Subject (Fabiola’s sister): Jessica Stukas is a 28-year-old Latina, born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. Jessica is currently employed at Shakey’s and also enjoys creative writing and advocating awareness for chronic health issues. In the future, Jessica hopes to achieve a more stabilized income and living situation for herself. She also wishes to continue to work on her writing and publish a short novel in a few years.

About the Tech: It was a challenge to find a space in the house that portrayed Jessica’s story and was large enough space to set up proper lighting. I was able to clear up some areas in the house and backyard to capture Jessica. I used my camera, a continuous lighting set, a ring light, and natural lighting. The lighting kit contains two light stands, two fluorescent light bulbs, and two umbrellas. I also used natural lighting mixed with the ring light as a filler. The shoot was fun, and it allowed me and my sister to be creative together.

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