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18 'Comebacks' to Use When Someone Asks Intrusive Questions About Your Health

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When you have a chronic illness, you get your fair share of intrusive comments and questions. After a while, these comments and questions can get more and more irritating – I know I have snapped at a few people over the years. The people saying these things may not be purposefully trying to be intrusive, but sometimes it is just a question or comment too far.

Mighty contributor Jordyn C. says it best: “The overall rule should be that unless you actually physically know what I am going through, then keep your mouth shut please.” The people asking questions may think they are saying the right thing, but they may actually be causing more harm.

When someone makes an intrusive comment or question about your health, it can sometimes be hard to know what to say. So we asked our Mighty community for some of their “comebacks” for these situations.

It is important to remember that no one should make you feel uncomfortable about your condition, and you should never feel like you have to tell someone something about your health if you do not want to. You don’t have to respond to their comments, but if you want to, you get to decide what you’re going to share with them – it is always up to you.

Here is what our community shared with us:

1. “Didn’t your mother teach you that it’s rude to ask such personal questions?” – Jill C.

2. “I ask a personal question about the bedroom. They invariably get offended, that is none of my business… I say ditto.” – Jenn B.

3. “Start listing all the wonderfully disgusting things that come with my illness. I like to see how far I can get before they regret asking any questions about my health.” – Marie D.

4. “’Why do you ask?’ / ‘What made you think of that question?’ / ‘Do you always ask such personal questions?’ (Turn it around on them to make them think about their line of questioning or motivation and if it’s appropriate.) All followed by a big smile and possibly a wink.” – Vana R.

5. “[When asked about] not wanting or being able to have children… ‘Hey, you worry about your uterus and I will worry about mine.’” – Vienna L.

6. “‘Do you always have trouble walking?’ ‘Nope, only when I stand up. In my wheelchair I am fine.’” – Michelle J.

Want to connect with other chronic illness warriors in a safe space? Download our free app to more easily ask questions and receive support from people who get it.

7. “Thank you so much for caring. I have a fabulous medical team who are taking good care of me, and they are the only people with whom I discuss these things.” – HaDassah M.

8. “I ask them if they are wearing a wire. When they ask why, I say, well I feel like I’m being interrogated.” – Shawntell W.

9. “I am sorry, you are neither my doctor nor social security disability and because of that I am not at liberty to discuss my medical issues with you. Have a great day!” – Rebecca K.

10. “I like to go for shock value. ‘You don’t look so good.’ ‘Could’ve been the 10 injections I got in the back of my head yesterday, but who knows.’” – Ashley T.

11. “’It’s contagious… Very very contagious.’” – Netty S.

12. “’And that’s your business because?’” – Jen W.

13. “’What an interesting question…’ followed up by staring into their eyes for an uncomfortably long time.” – Cathy M.

14. “I just turn and look the person up and down then sadly shake my head and walk away.” – Kathleen B.

How do you respond to intrusive questions? Join the conversation below:

Mighty question that asks "How do you politely answer when coworkers ask intrusive questions about your #ChronicIllness / #Fibromyalgia / #ChronicPain? Today someone asked me why i was walking with a stick, I said “oh, it's my back” and carried on working - hoping they'd read between the lines and see I wasn't up for elaborating. Later on they brought it up again and started asking loads of questions about what exactly is wrong with my back, how long it's been like that, what can I do about it... I just wanted to say “look buddy, just stop, this stuff is personal” but he's a nice guy and I didn't want to be rude. Which actually is stupid - I find those questions incredibly rude & my feelings matter too!"

15. “Do you really care, or are you just nosy?” – Monika Y.

16. “If it’s unsolicited advice: ‘I promise you if it’s obvious to you, at some point I or one of my several doctors have thought of it.’” – Kitty P.

17. “’What’s wrong with you?’ can get two different responses from me depending on my mood. ‘Nothing, what about you?’ or ‘My medical information is between me and my doctors. You are not entitled to know.’” – Evren G.

18. “It’s great that you asked me that today, as right now I’ve got this crazy sale on – for literally £0.00 you can mind your own business.” – Michelle B.

On top of the chronic pain and fatigue that come with many chronic illnesses, you may also have to deal with the chronic commenting and questioning. If you want to answer truthfully, you can. If you want to hit them with a “comeback,” you can. It is your health – your life. You get to decide what you want to share, and whom you want to share it with.

Originally published: February 1, 2019
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