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5 Things the Chronically Ill Hear About Their Appearance

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You’re too young to be sick.

You don’t look sick or in pain.

If you lost weight or exercised, you would feel better.

You look so great! Are you feeling better?

These are the things we hear when we’re chronically ill. This isn’t to say we can’t handle compliments, but we can have issues with our body.

1. You look great! You lost weight and must be feeling better!

I’ve been told this. For some reason, people think skinny is healthy. Hate to break it to you, but it’s not. And often, if the chronically ill are losing weight, it can be for health reasons.

I’m losing weight due to nausea and lack of appetite. In the past, I’ve lost weight due to medication. And oh, the compliments I’ve heard about how much better I must be? No. Just no. And the weight loss wasn’t a healthy loss or in any way the sort you would want.

2. If you would just lose some weight, you’ll feel better. 

Thanks for the awesome advice. But some of us have thyroid issues, so it’s not as easy as that. Some of us have other health issues that complicate weight loss. I know others are on medications that may cause weight gain, so we don’t appreciate being told this.

3. You don’t look sick or in pain.

I’m just going to say this once: How you look on the outside doesn’t reflect what your health is like in the inside.

4. You’re too young to be sick.

And yet, oddly enough, everyone can get sick. Some of us started early in the game. Others will start late.

5. You look so great. Are you feeling better?

Looking awesome doesn’t mean the person is cured. It doesn’t even mean they feel good. It means they wanted to be presentable. Or they maybe had a decent night’s sleep for once. Or they just happen to look awesome.

It’s not that we can’t take compliments. We can. Hell, I get ID’ed in a bar and I’m glowing all night. I get hit on by someone younger than me and feel flattered as all hell. More than a few random people have complimented me on my sunglasses and my favorite hat. And I love my specs and hat. I wear them because of migraines, but I happen to think they are snazzy, too. On the fact I don’t look my age — hell, I can take compliments. But don’t for a second tell me I look great, so I must not have a migraine that day. No. I can hide my pain like no one’s business.

We just don’t like our compliments mixed in with health connotations. Don’t confuse external looks with health. Don’t confuse looks with health and well-being in any way or form. Compliment, sure, and leave it at that. Then, ask us if we’re feeling well. Never assume anything based on appearance.

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: January 13, 2017
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