Our Health Conditions Are Not a Competition

The other day I was discussing the pain I’ve been having with some people I go to church with. I was asked by someone how I have been doing and I told them the truth, which is that I have been in quite a lot of pain lately. A gentleman who was sitting at the same table as us overheard our conversation and responded, “It could be worse.”

At the time I responded in my usual way, smiled and agreed with them, shrugging off their comment like it did not matter to me. The dialog inside my head was instantly, “It could be better, too.”

I have been thinking about this comment for days now. It has sat with me and festered. I know the gentleman who said it did not mean to cause any offense, and it isn’t that I am offended, I am frustrated. I am tired of having to justify my pain and symptoms to other people who have no idea what I have gone through in my short life.

The gentleman who said this comment to me has a loved one who is going through some terrible pain and medical problems. She is an older lady, and I believe this is what prompted him to say that comment to me. I often wonder when I talk about my medical problems with people if they think I am just whining. This is why I don’t discuss my medical problems unless first asked about them by someone else.

I know that my problems could be worse, I do realize that. That is true about every single person on the planet, which means the reverse it true to. My life could be a whole lot better. I don’t ever try to compare my life to anyone else’s. The second I do that I either feel depressed because I see what my life could be if I were healthy, or I feel guilty for lamenting my situation when I see those who do have it worse. I don’t think anyone should compare their life with anyone else’s. Everyone has different challenges they must face, and to one person what quantifies a huge obstacle is not the same as someone else.

I know what the gentleman at church said to me was not meant to make me feel the way I felt, his mind was oriented to his loved one who is sick and how bad of pain she is in. I do understand and do not feel anger or anything towards this man. He is a really nice man. I just wanted to point out how someone’s offhand comment can bring up these terrible feelings in those who hear it and to stress the fact that the different problems we each face are our problems alone, no one can tell you what quantifies a big problem in your life. I acknowledge the fact that I could have it worse, but there is no denying that I could definitely have it better.

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