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8 ways your words HURT when you offer me ‘advice’ about my illness

Let me start off by saying I LOATHE talking on the phone when I feel shitty. This includes doctor’s offices, bank accountants, the school or even Mr. Mango calling to check in but most of all includes long “chats” with either one of my parents.

I have felt absolutely horrid the last couple days so of course naturally my dad has to call to catch up, talk about the kids, chat about work, ask about how my health is….. and give advice.

I don’t presume to know how other chronically ill people feel (I’ll get to this more later) but personally if there’s one thing that’s gonna make me feel even worse when I already feel like crap is being told all the things I SHOULD and/or SHOULDN’T do to get/be/stay better from someone who isn’t in fact a medical or alternative medicine professional.

While I don’t think I’ll ever have the guts to approach anyone, especially my father about how much it bothers me, I still feel the need to get it out. All the ways it not only doesn’t make me feel better but most of the time leaves me feeling worse and even more worn out.

1. You assume I haven’t heard of/ tried “that” – If  you heard through a friend of a friend’s ex’s new girlfriend’s cousin that “this and that” really helped them with their illness (sometimes the same as mine, sometimes something completely unrelated), don’t you think I might already know about it too?

I appreciate that you’re trying to understand my illness, but chances are anything that ‘magical’ that would pass from person to person like that is either a load of commercial whooie or it’s something I and my entourage of medically knowledgeable professionals have already ruled it out.

2. You say things like “rest more”, “do less” or “reduce stress” – Again, along the lines of things I’m either already doing and most likely can’t do any more of. Pointing it out is absolutely redundant.

Honestly it makes me feel like you either don’t believe I’m ill or you don’t believe I wish I could feel better. I’m pretty sure I can say with confidence that those of us suffering from any chronic disease, illness or condition would love nap it all away or take a trip to Fiji to de-stress and come back cured. We have learned to adapt to our circumstances, resting when we can, finding ways to remove stress and cut out unneeded activity.

3. You offer to help but have no intention of following through. – Mr. Mango and I went through a similar thing when our children were born. Cute little babies that all our friends wanted to smooth, cuddle and take pictures of. We had dozens of “Oh any time you need, we would love to babysit.” I’ll let you take a stab at how many of these fine people actually ended up child watching at any point.

Don’t tell me you wish there was something you could do to help if you don’t expect me to hold you to it. After all you told me to rest more, you going to come over and make the family supper while I nap? I don’t ask for help often, but if it’s offered I’m sure as hell going to try and take it.

4. You compare my chronic illnesses with an acute condition. – My swollen and stiff joints are not the same as a broken bone or sprained ankle. My IBS is not the same as the stomach flu. My fatigue is not the same as being tired after a late night. My anxiety isn’t the same as being worried about a public speech. My depression is not the same as feeling a little blue. The list goes on but you get the point.

It make me feel like you are downplaying my pain with something you can recognize. I do not need you to know what I feel, I need you to empathize with how I feel and understand that it is different than anything you have experienced and that THAT is ok.

5. You tell me to have faith or that everything happens for a reason – This is where I may differ from some. I know that to certain people the idea of God’s plan, or faith in spiritual healing can be incredibly helpful and calming but I am not one of those people. I do not think I am sick for some divine reason and I do not see it as a hidden blessing. My faith in a higher power doesn’t work that way.

It’s not to say I don’t appreciate if YOU feel that way. I appreciate your prayers, after all that’s you taking time out of your talk with The Big Guy just for me, it means a lot.  Just because I don’t follow religious beliefs doesn’t mean I don’t respect yours, but it goes both ways, please respect mine ( or lack there of).

6. You insinuate I did this to my self – I don’t think most people even realize when they do this. They either don’t understand how their wording is understood or they are actually meaning to give consolation. Mentioning that I used to be overweight, used to smoke, used to eat a typical North European to Canadian diet, that I occasionally drink, that I exercise too much (or not enough still) is really unnecessary.

I am aware that I’ve had some pretty shitty habits in the past and that I’m not a diet or exercise saint now but as far as I know I didn’t cause my illnesses and if I made symptoms worse, you can bet that I’ve worked hard to find ways to fix it. The only person to give me that kind of warning and advice is my doctor(s).

7. You tell me ‘I look better’ or ‘you must be feeling better’ – Looks can be deceiving. Personally I look a lot worse after a bout with food poisoning or a night up with Little Dude getting his molars in than I do on one of my worse days dealing with lupus, depression or IBS. The tricky thing about invisible illnesses is there isn’t anything visible to determine how sick a person is. On top of that, the right clothing, a good hair scrunchy and some quality make-up and it’s easy to fool the regular world. I don’t want to look sick to the world, who does? My physical appearance has nothing to do with what I’m feeling on the inside. I shouldn’t have to point that out, especially to someone who already knows I am ill.

8.You use the 4 most dreaded words “IT COULD BE WORSE” – I know this. It’s along the lines of “at least it’s not cancer.” Who exactly feels better after hearing this? I know there are worse diseases and conditions out there, but I don’t feel ‘lucky’ to have this one. Worse still is that I know what the worst case of my illnesses is, trust me. It fucking scares me. That could be me either under different circumstances or some time in the future. Not only am I sick but somehow I’ve wound up feeling guilty for not being sick-ER or worried that some day I will be.

So there you have it, or at least I think so. To be honest I could have just thrown 1000 random words together and just ‘think’ I made a whole lot of sense. Like I said, it’s been a rough couple days.

I’m sure there are things I’ve missed or that in my particular group of loved ones I don’t really experience. Anyone else have any thoughts?

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2 thoughts on “8 ways your words HURT when you offer me ‘advice’ about my illness

  1. Love reading your blog! Someone once told me I could cure myself by eating no-till radishes (not kidding.). “have you tried cutting out gluten?” is another personal favorite. There’s also the people who just happen to sell things that will cure me (plexus, isagenix, etc.). Praying your days get better. I hope that sometimes you can laugh at the absurdity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I have to agree, approaching all the sales pitches and radical notions is really the only way to get through it with a little sanity. People never really learn until it happens to them. Take care! xoxo

      Like

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