I’ve lived with chronic illness to some extent my whole life but for the last 2 1/2 years illness has been a major contributing factor in my life.
One thing I’m noticing more and more as I learn to accept, and live with, my chronic illnesses and the disabling symptoms they impose on my daily life is the innocence and ignorance of many who do not suffer from them.
It’s not only what’s happening in my life, but what I hear from others online and in person who are also suffering from invisible chronic illnesses.
The key word there is INVISIBLE…
Whenever I meet people in public I’m asked “How are you going?” or told “You’re looking good” and when I hear these things I never know how to reply.
On the outside I look like any other healthy person.
I walk normally most of the time (no obvious limp) although this can be difficult when I’m in a lot of pain or when the fatigue is so bad that my legs feel like lead weights. I look bright and happy (because I am happy) even when inside my body is screaming at me and my brain is in a dense fog.
Yes, I may ‘look good’ but I don’t feel good but I don’t want to be a downer for everyone around me so I don’t necessarily want to tell people I feel like crap.
How should I respond to these comments and questions?
I’ve seen different responses online from others going through the same thing.
Some people keep all the pain and suffering inside. They tell others they’re fine and try to ignore what’s going on then get upset and angry at the people asking the questions because they don’t understand.
Others tell anyone and everyone what’s going on with them. This can lead to people getting frustrated at you. People can begin to think you’re not really as sick as you say you are.
Personally, I think something in between is the best road to take. When answering questions or talking to people about our health we should take into consideration who we’re talking to and what their relationship is with us.
Even those closest to us don’t need to be constantly told what we’re feeling. Yes, they need to understand but we also need to understand it can be hard for them to cope, especially if you fell ill after you were close.
Responding to “You look good”
If I don’t know the person at all, I’d just reply ‘Thank you’.
If they know about my condition but I’m not very close to them, I’m likely to say ‘Thanks, I don’t feel that good’.
If I’m close to them I might share more detail about how I’m feeling, especially if how I’m feeling will impact on what we’re planning to do together.
Responding to “How are you?”
If I don’t know the person at all, I’d just reply ‘Fine’ or ‘OK’.
If they know about my condition but I’m not very close to them, I’m likely to say ‘As well as can be expected’. If they’re interested I might go into more detail afterwards.
If I’m close to them, I’d give a similar answer to above but would usually give them more detail.
How do you respond to well meaning but difficult questions and comments?