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When People Closest to You Give Unwanted Opinions About Your Chronic Illness

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There are so many people out there in the world who rush to give their opinions on what chronic illnesses are or aren’t and what they think will cure them. Usually, those opinions, more often than not, are based on judgmental presumptions, half-baked facts and an irrelevant article they once read about an entirely unrelated medical condition. 

Perhaps it’s just human nature that makes people always feel obliged to offer up an opinion or want to “fix” things they don’t fully understand. It’s a bit like a person, I suppose, who when presented with a problem, will always try to solve it instead of just dishing out the sympathy that’s required.

Having read countless of posts on Facebook forums, it appears to me that the majority of insensitive opinions can often come from those closest to home: the spouses, parents, siblings and friends of the chronically ill. People, in other words, who you’d expect to be offering empathy, sympathy and a whole lot of understanding.

Granted, sometimes these opinions do come from a place of caring and concern, but that doesn’t mean they sound any less patronizing. Accusatory is how they often come across to me. Like we’re somehow exaggerating how we feel. Or perhaps all these ailments are really just in our heads. Or maybe there’s a glaringly obvious solution that we simply haven’t bothered to find out for ourselves.

I think the issue with so many of these conditions — lupusSjogren’s syndrome, fibromyalgia, myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic pain — are that they invisible illnesses and often involve two very different faces. So unless the opinionated person in question has seen firsthand the fatigue or symptoms at their very worst, they can’t even begin to comprehend how life-changing and debilitating such a disease can be.

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: November 30, 2016
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