Some of the more difficult issues in living with any chronic condition are the stigmas that are often associated with them. Often, people will assume that one’s condition isn’t bad by virtue of what they may have heard about it, or they have pre-conceived notions about its severity because one may not present visible or physical symptoms. It’s an issue I’ve had to deal with often throughout my life, ironically from family members as well as peers, employers and friends.
It’s kind of like some of the videos I’ve seen online where someone walks up to an individual in a parking lot and starts betraying them for parking in a handicap spot, despite having a handicap placard. The old line of “but you look fine” or “you’re walking normally” usually comes into play. Or knowing someone has fibromyalgia but suggesting it’s nothing because they seem to be getting on fine with their day, not recognizing the immense pain and effort it takes simply to “get on with one’s day.”
The best line and the one that usually pisses me off the most, is when people say “it could be worse.” What does that even mean??? I’ve actually spent my entire life hearing that line from my mother, of all people. I know that she’s usually saying it in the context of trying to face the positive but it never feels that way and comparing a person’s medical condition to something YOU perceive as being worse helps no one.
This irks me far more than it probably should but when I have someone who suggests that matters could be worse, I could have cancer or flesh-eating virus or any score of other ailments, it cheapens the severity of my own condition. I may look fine, but inside I have a tumultuous typhoon of symptoms, pains, bodily issues and a strict check and balance that needs to be maintained, just so that I can “look fine.”
The irony is that for those of us who see fit to work hard and push through, we’re not rewarded by praise for maintaining our overall health. We’re told that it doesn’t seem so bad and that it “could be worse.” Do anyone with a chronic condition a favour; don’t assume or presume how a person is doing solely on what your eyes can see. And don’t lessen the severity of someone’s condition simply because you know someone else who may be worse off. That helps no one. Food for thought… ☯️