“Well you look healthy, are you sure you’re sick?”
“I mean, it could be worse…”
“You’re just being lazy, you should honestly get out more.”
“You look awful.”
“You’re probably sleeping too much!”
“Get well soon!”
Have you heard any of these before? How do you feel after hearing them?
The people that you may interact with on a daily basis may not understand chronic illness and its affect on someone. Your co-workers, friends, family, and even strangers that you come across with may leave you feeling upset, confused, and often angry.
These are some tips on how to deal with people’s reactions to your chronic illness.
Decide how you want to react.
Every person with a chronic illness often faces these types of ignorant remarks, and for each one you need to decide how you want to react.
Do you want to confront them about the issue? Ignore what they are saying? Educate them? Of course, this depends on the situation you are in.
Whatever choice you make when having to deal with someone’s reaction is entirely up to you.
Know that most of the time it comes from a good place.
When it comes to health, everyone has an opinion. These opinions usually come from a good place especially when it’s from a friend or family member.
Their first reaction to your chronic illness is likely to be along the lines of “How can I make this better”? However, without real medical experience, their suggestions tend to be less than useful, and it is frustrating to hear the same suggestions over and over again.
Remember, some people who aren’t familiar with a chronic condition may just not know what to say, and may feel uncomfortable. Unless they are downright being vicious or rude, keep in mind that many comments from friends and family are coming from a place of caring and worrying about you.
Help them understand how you feel.
When a family member or friend says something like, “You need to get out of bed – stop being lazy,” this can be terribly damaging to someone who suffers from chronic illness.
Comments like these put you in a position where you may start questioning your own illness – “Am I really sick?” “Did I make all of this up in my head?” It is so difficult to come to terms with the fact that your illness is chronic and it is even harder when people who mean well say things that just remind you of that.
It will be hard, but do not take these comments too heart. Try to explain what you are feeling or educate them on your illness. If they have no interest in learning more or being more compassionate, then that is their problem – not yours!
If you decide to confront the issue or individual, inform them that there are other ways they can help you. There is always a better way to get involved and be supportive, especially when referring to people who are close to you.
Mention to them that one of the best ways they can help you is by joining the cause for awareness, and to get the word out about chronic illnesses. They can do this by attending an event, a walk, fundraiser, sharing posts with information, etc.
No matter how thoughtless, degrading, and insincere someone is about your chronic illness, know that there are others who support, love and understand what you are going through. You have the power to control the situation and decide how you want to confront someone (or if you even want to confront someone). Whatever decision you make is entirely up to YOU!