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6 Questions I Wish People Would Ask Before Judging My Illness

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I often feel as though I am being pre-judged by my chronic illness without someone even taking the time to understand my illness or bothering to ask questions to understand it before making their judgment.

I’ve heard everything, like “You’re lazy, you’re stronger then the pain, you can push through, it can’t be that bad, just grin and bear it.” These terms are very disrespectful, not to mention very hurtful. These statements minimize the pain we are enduring on a daily basis. It minimizes the strength we put fourth everyday to just open our eyes on bad days, to crawl out of bed.

I so desperately wish everyone could understand this is not the way we want to live our lives, this is not how we ever envisioned our lives being. The strength it takes mentally and physically to get out of bed every day is overwhelming at times, and excruciating. Yet we endure when we can. We conquer this beast every single day the very best way we know how.

When someone doesn’t quite understand my illness, I wish they would just ask to sit and ask me questions to try to understand and try to empathize with my situation. Questions such as:

1. What does your illness really mean, in terms of your day-to-day living?

2. What does having a chronic illness entail in terms of medical visits and medications?

3. Are there any cures available? Is there any way in which I as a friend can help advocate for you?

4. When you’re having a flare, what can I do to help? Is there anything that I can do to help your day a bit easier?

5. When you’re having a bad day, are there things I may want to avoid saying that might be hurtful or disrespectful without my knowing?

6. What would you need from me as a friend to help you navigate through this chronic illness a bit easier?

This open dialogue with a loved one or a friend can help diminish these hurtful pre-judgments and allow for a better understanding of your illness. Unfortunately, autoimmune diseases are not widely spoken about and therefore misunderstand in many cases. Loved ones and friends do not mean to make hurtful comments — it’s just a sign that you may need to help educate them on the illnesses you are facing. Open dialogue on these chronic illnesses can not only help you, but also help your loved ones understand and empathize with your daily struggle.

Originally published: August 12, 2016
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