6 Things People With Chronic Illnesses Are Tired of Hearing
For some reason, people — even the most well-meaning ones — often find it necessary to comment on others’ illnesses. Despite good intentions, these statements and questions can come off as insensitive or just plain ignorant, and being on the receiving end is tiring. So we asked our readers with chronic illnesses to share with us some things they’re tired of hearing, and what they’d rather hear instead.
This is what they had to say:
1. “But you could do this thing or that thing before… “
“I’m tired of hearing, ‘But last week you were able to go for a long walk!’ It’s called having a good day, when my joints don’t ache so much. I wish people would say instead, ‘Do you need a hand with anything today? How are you feeling?’” — Pamela O’Regan
2. “You’re too young to have that.”
“Instead, [I] would love to hear silence or genuine polite curiosity — questions like, ‘Do you mind me asking why you use a cane?’” — Alicia Estadt
3. “You look fine.”
“As if that totally combats my sickness and makes it seem like I’m not really sick since I don’t have a visible illness. I would much rather them ask how I’m feeling instead of commenting on my outward appearance.” — Kristin George
4. “I couldn’t handle that if I was in your situation.”
“Umm… thanks? I’d rather hear, ‘I know you are strong enough to get through this.’” — Alana Schuurs
5. “Have you tried ___ (insert gluten-free/vegan/paleo or whatever other type of diet here)?”
“Unless you’re going to come over and cook for me on a daily basis and clean up after, I will continue to buy and eat mostly things that can be microwaved while I sit and wait… I would rather hear, ‘I know you have a hard time cooking. Can I come make you a meal or bring you a meal you can heat up later?’ I would love that!” — Christine Heckler
6. “It must be nice to stay in bed all day!”
“As a person with narcolepsy/cataplexy and chronic pain, comments like this are the absolute worst just because of the pure ignorance. Something a little more excusable but still equally bothersome is when I tell my friends or family or boyfriend that I’m tired and, trying to help, they suggest I do something like drink some coffee or get up and go for a walk and then I’ll feel better. They don’t understand that my tiredness isn’t fleeting like most people’s. It stays with me, and asking me to fight through it isn’t possible.” — Monica Jean Cozadd
What are you tired of hearing from strangers? What would you rather hear instead? Let us know in the comments below.