Please Don't Try to 'Heal' Your Chronically Ill Friend With Unsolicited Health Advice
I think the weirdest and most infuriating part of having a chronic illness is having other people trying to “heal” you. Ask any person who has had a chronic illness long enough and they will confirm. People just like to give me all of their weird miracle cures or natural diets that they swear will change my life. I think the overall rule should be that unless you actually physically know what I am going through, then keep your mouth shut please. We are all beyond tired of your unwanted and unhelpful opinions.
This past week I had the most frustrating, but also hilarious, experience at Vocation Rehabilitation training. My job coach was busy for the first part of my appointment with several other clients. He sits me down and has me watch a half hour-long video that one of his coworkers had given to him. The video is all about energy and meditation. The minute I see the woman paused on the screen, I know I’m in for it. Here I am thinking, “Ugh, not this again!”
The video goes on to talk about how we can train our brain through meditation to give us energy. That we can have so much more energy in a day, just by being mindful of our bodies and such. To a point, I do agree with this theology. We are all stressed and would benefit from having a mindfulness about our body and spirit. However, when you are dealing with chronic illnesses, you cannot really apply the same method to get the same results. I don’t want to think about how my arm feels, because then I am now focused on how much my arm hurts. I need to be distracted to have a mentally good disposition about my chronic illnesses.
People do not understand this fact. For some reason, there is a misconception that I have not done all I can do to help my situation. That I have not researched, taken all the vitamins, medicines, etc. I can to make myself feel as well as I can. I don’t understand how this is a common thought process of people. I have gotten the whole yoga spiel from therapists, job coaches, case managers, etc. and it just boggles me. First of all, these people are not even medical professionals and I am not there to ask them for help for my chronic illnesses. So why do they always feel the need to do this?
Is there something out there telling people to give me their strange advice? If so, what can I do to shut it down? I just want others to know that we chronic illness warriors are doing the best we can. Your unsolicited advice is not helping the situation in any way. Why don’t you try asking questions that show you care, but that do not cross the line? Something like, “How is your pain level today?” or “Is there anything I could do to help you out?” Just show you care, but in a more sensitive and thoughtful way.
I understand that people give us this advice because they want to help. Chronic illness is the enigma that baffles us all. So of course, when seeing someone dealing with this, I get the feeling of wanting to help out in some way. I just want you to understand that we don’t want your advice. By all means, we have researched and asked questions. We are doing the best we can in our current situation. Maybe you can just tell us that you want to help, but don’t know how. Believe me, we will let you know how you can.
To all who are reading this, I want you to know that you are not alone in being badgered. However, I want you to think next time it happens that maybe the other person is doing this because they don’t know any other way to help. Try to be grateful, however irritating it is, because I know it comes from a good place. I also want those who like giving advice to know that while your attempts to help are appreciated, please go about it in a different way. We appreciate your interest in us and our situation, but changing the way you try to help would be greatly respected.
Getty Image by Aja Koska