What I'd Like to Hear Instead of 'You're So Brave!'


What I want to hear, as an autoimmune disease patient, is very simple.

I don’t want to hear “You’re so brave!” or “You’re my hero!” Although these things are great and positive, they feel demeaning to me when I am not feeling brave or strong. I love that people want to compliment me, I love that they make an attempt at showing they care, but I don’t want to hear that every time.

What I want to hear most is not that I am brave or strong, but that it’s OK not to be. I want someone to hug me and say, “It is OK to not be strong all the time, to not be brave 24/7. It’s OK to yell and scream and have a fit, just don’t stay in that frame of mind all the time. You aren’t being negative when you aren’t brave or strong all the time.”

I want to express my fears without being told, “Just stay positive.” I want to be told my fears are rational and that I can still be real without being negative. I want people to stop this conception that if you are fighting something deadly you are brave and strong all the time when all you are doing is living, you are doing what everyone else is doing. I want people to listen when I say I am being realistic instead immediately judging that I am being negative.

I want to be real without someone judging.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Chronic Illness

sketch of woman sitting facing man at his office desk

By the Way, I'm Sick... Do I Still Have the Job?

There comes a point in time where you have to come to terms with the fact that you’re sick. I have ignored it for so long and have tried to hide it as much as I can, but it isn’t something I can hide any longer. This is me, and I need to accept that. [...]

To My Friends Who Kept Calling Even When Answering Was Too Painful

The phone doesn’t stop ringing; it is a sure as the tick of a grandfather clock. It has been my constant wake-up call for many different times of my life. It rings when I don’t even want to get out of bed, but that is why it rings. I don’t know who it is. I don’t answer, I [...]
Young Denise and her Annie doll.

The Power of Getting Angry When You're Chronically Ill

One of my favorite shows when I was little was “Annie.” Like countless other kids over the years, I spent hours singing and dancing around my apartment to the music. We like to remember Little Orphan Annie for her optimistic signature song, “Tomorrow.” We tend to forget that a number of her other songs were [...]
Cover images of three women

This Is What It Looks Like When You Feature Disabled and Chronically Ill People in Magazines

“Where are her scars?” I’m standing at the counter of my local pharmacy holding a copy of that month’s women’s magazine. The pharmacy technician looks at the cover – it’s Jillian Michaels in a swimsuit – and then looks at me. “She has endometriosis,” I explain, pointing emphatically at her cover photo. “Where are her [...]