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15 'Comebacks' to Use If Someone Says You're 'Too Young' to Be Chronically Ill

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There is a common misconception that chronic, serious illnesses only happen to older people – but this could not be further from the truth.

Many people with chronic illness begin displaying symptoms as early as childhood, or even in their teens, 20s and 30s. Being young (unfortunately) does not preclude you from developing a serious illness… or several. But when healthy people don’t realize this, and question how you could possibly be so sick at such a young age, their misunderstanding can leave you feeling judged and isolated.

If your illness comes up in conversation and someone says you’re “too young” for that, it can be tricky to know how to respond. In some cases, the comment may provide an opportunity to educate the person about the realities of chronic illness. Other times, you may not feel comfortable going into detail about your condition, or just don’t feel up to launching into an explanation – and that’s OK, too.

However you decide to respond, it may be helpful to have a few lines prepared ahead of time so you’re not caught off-guard. We asked our Mighty community to share their favorite responses or “comebacks” to people saying, “You’re too young to be chronically ill!” that can help correct, inform or “shut down” any judgment. Let us know how you respond to this statement in the comments below.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

  1. “Oh, thanks! I’ll tell my illnesses so they can go away and come back when I’m old enough!” – Monica J.
  2. “You’re too old to still be this naive!” – Eydís Á.
  3. Some babies are born with heart or brain defects, etc. Why is it so difficult to believe a 20-something year old is disabled?” – Kimberlee W.
  4. Tell my illness that it came early to the party by 20 years!” – Kirst F.
  5. My mom forgot to get the extended warranty when she had me.” – Tamara W.
  6. Tell that to my rheumatologist!” – Rebecca H.
  7. You think if I show my body an ID I’ll be cured?” – Sarah B.
  8. “OMG you really need to go inform all the children’s hospitals!” – Amanda A.
  9. I know, right? It’s hard dealing with disability at a young age.” – Kelliann G.
  10. How old do I have to be?” – Stephanie A.
  11. “I didn’t realize that illnesses discriminate. Gee, I’m cured!” – Kristin N.
  12. “‘Yes, I agree.’ Then change the subject.” – Elaine L.
  13. I just go into explaining how that is the very reason my diagnosis was delayed nine years and why there is so much negligence by doctors.” – Jill W.
  14. Yes, please keep rubbing that in. Tooooootally makes me feel better about it.” – Meaghan K.
  15. “Tell it to my joints.” – Kristin S.
Originally published: April 4, 2018
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