Why the 'It Can't Happen to Me' Mentality Is Dangerous for Our Health


Whenever someone asks me about my chronic illnesses, they are often shocked, angry, and/or concerned. Despite being deaf since birth, I was never a sick child. In fact, I went to the pediatrician the bare minimum number of times, mostly just for my childhood vaccinations. I never had a reason to be there otherwise.

In 2012, I started developing a variety of different pain syndromes, autoimmune diseases, and neurological conditions in the weeks and months following my very first dose of the Gardasil HPV vaccine. For many years, we just assumed that my body just spontaneously decided to develop all this issues and that there wasn’t an underlying cause that should be investigated.

After a near-fatal fight with encephalopathy and dysautonomia in May 2016, my doctors and I were forced to find out the underlying cause, as my life depended on it. What we discovered next caught everyone off guard. My immune system was cranking out ridiculous levels of antibodies higher than many physicians had ever seen. However, this isn’t about the illnesses specifically. It is about peoples’ reactions.

After finding out that the HPV vaccine was the trigger for all of my conditions, so many people told me “It didn’t happen to me, my daughter, my son, etc., so it can’t happen at all.” In my case, and I am only qualified to speak on my experience, it can happen and it did happen.

So many people have the “It can’t happen to me or my family” or the “It didn’t happen to me or my family, so it can’t happen” attitude. This mentality doesn’t just apply to medical conditions. It can apply to most life circumstances. If you ask me, this is the single most dangerous mindset that many people have. Just because I developed a condition, doesn’t mean you can’t develop the same condition or an even worse condition. Instead of denying and attacking others’ personal experiences, please remember to keep an open mind. You may not me affected now, but you or a loved one could be affected in the future. Additionally, it is not always easy to share ones experiences when they know they could be judged.

So simply because something hasn’t happened to you, your family, your friends, etc., doesn’t mean it can’t/hasn’t happened to someone else. That “It can’t happen to me” mentality is what often gets people in trouble and closes the door on the possibility to gain more knowledge and awareness. If you asked me where I would be in five years in 2011, before I got sick, I never would have guessed I’d be a full-time wheelchair user. Actually, I probably would have scoffed, like “Yeah right!” We are all guilty of that mentality, but we can take steps to reduce it. It all starts with an open mind!

It couldn’t happen to me either… until it did.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by Grandfailure


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


Related to Chronic Illness

Woman sitting on sofa, writing letter

Dear Me: Here’s What You Need to Read on a Bad Pain Day

Dear self, I am going to keep this one short and sweet, because I know how you get when you are in this much pain. You get pretty irritable, and it’s OK. So you are here, again. You are here frequently; you know how this feels. This should be second nature to you. You have [...]
IV drip on background of work in hospital. Medical background

Why I'm Urging Everyone to Take Sepsis Seriously

Sepsis. This is a medical term that I knew nothing about, hadn’t even heard of, until I was diagnosed with it back in 2015. Sepsis is a toxic reaction, a poisoning of the blood, to an infection found in your body and can lead to death. In fact, one report by Statistics Canada found that one [...]
Person sitting at table with arms resting on wooden table, writing in notebook

Turning My Pain Into Poetry

Editor’s Note: If you’ve experienced domestic violence, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline online by clicking “chat now” or calling  1-800-799-7233. I love April. April is not only my birthday month, it’s National Poetry Month here in the U.S. I’ve loved and written poetry for as [...]

Why I Love My Shirt From The Mighty

As a frequent contributor for The Mighty, I requested a Mighty t-shirt and was ecstatic once it came in the mail. Since then, I have worn the shirt quite often, partially because it’s comfortable and made of soft fabric, but also because the shirt has gained its own meaning for me. The shirt is bright [...]