5 Things People With Chronic Illness Get Tired of Hearing

Finding out you have a chronic illness can be the best and worst thing to happen. You finally have an answer as to why you feel this way. You can finally find the right treatment plan. You finally know what is happening to your body, whether it took years or months to get the answer. On the flip side, you find out something is wrong. You are sick, and finding a treatment that works is never easy.

Now that you have your answer, you may almost feel stuck. You can tell your friends and family why you feel like this, you have the research to show them. They may not always understand though. Family and friends who knew you before you became sick often just won’t understand. Here’s a list of things that I’ve had people say to me because they truly don’t understand.

1. “But you did this yesterday (or before you were sick).”

This one’s really hard. I hate knowing there are things I can’t do anymore because of being sick. Being reminded of this by others makes it even harder. I try my absolute hardest to do everything I used to do. It’s hard to remember that my body isn’t the same anymore.

2. “I don’t understand why you need a wheelchair but can still do this (examples being walking, skiing, swimming).”

Again, they don’t understand the toll our body takes every time we do something big. For example, I went skiing this year to see if I could still handle it. I was able to ski for about three hours max, with dozens of breaks to rest. I don’t always use a wheelchair though, I use it when I know I’m going to be doing a lot of walking. I know my body can’t handle that anymore, I need to conserve as much energy as possible.

3. “Why don’t you ever go out?”

Being in college is hard when you have a chronic illness. College is supposed to be the time where you go out with your friends and have fun. Unfortunately, my body can’t handle that. With going to classes, doing my homework and taking care of myself, I just don’t have the energy to do anything else at the end of the day. All I want to do is lay in bed with a heating pad and Netflix.

4. “You’re still sick?”

Yes, I still get this question all the time. It’s hard to explain to some relatives that I’m not getting better. I’m going to be sick the rest of my life, hopefully with a better treatment plan, but still sick. Some people just don’t want that to be the reality, they want you to get better. While they mean no harm, it can be upsetting also.

5. “Have you tried this?”

The amount of suggestions I’ve gotten from friends and family, as well as strangers, is more than one can count. These suggestions can be a diet, sleeping patterns, doing more, an exercise plan, basically anything you can think of. While I know most of the time this comes from a good place, it can get really annoying hearing the same thing over and over. I’ve done the research, talked to my doctors, and others with the same illness, I think I know what I’m doing.

While these comments usually come from a good place, it can be upsetting to hear them over and over. The amount of things said to me is a list more than a mile long, but I think these five stand out most. Many of those with chronic illnesses may struggle to accept the fact that they’re sick. In my case, I wouldn’t change it. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I never got sick. I wouldn’t have my amazing service dog in training, and I wouldn’t have some of my amazing friends. Yes, being sick every day can be draining, but it changes who you are. Next time you are going to say something to someone who’s chronically ill, make sure that it isn’t something that someone’s said a million times already.

Getty Image by Nataliya Komarova

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

Related to Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome

A woman standing outside, looking towards the left.

The 11 Years I Unknowingly Lived With Dysautonomia

I often hear (and speak) of what life has been like since being diagnosed with my chronic illness, but it’s not everyday that I read of the struggles one goes through before receiving that life-changing diagnosis. For my first time publicly speaking about my own health, I thought it would be best to start from [...]
The writer's daughter on her 16th birthday.

When I Found Myself Asking My Chronically Ill Daughter the 'Maybe Ifs'

I have a friend whom I would constantly tell, “Stop beating yourself up, no one is harder on you than you. You are a great mom and your own worst critic.” But it is true, mothers are inherently harder on themselves than anyone else could ever be. If only we were in possession of a [...]
A woman with painted nails with her hand on the wheel of her wheelchair.

When I Realized I Was Prioritizing My Fear of Using a Wheelchair Over My Health

It was late. The sun had already set and the rain had been steadily falling all day. I was sitting with my boyfriend in his car, trying to suppress my anxiety and panic about doing something I had never done before: Use a wheelchair in a grocery store. In the past, before I knew that [...]
blurred image of a woman sitting on a bench outside in a city

Why I Wish My Chronic Illness Was More Visible

Living with a chronic illness is hard. Asking for help when you need it is even harder. I’ve asked multiple people for help with my healthcare needs over the years and I don’t always get it. Why? Because I don’t look sick. I have an invisible illness. You can’t see tachycardia. You can’t see low [...]