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To the People Who Try to Stop Me From Laughing About My Chronic Illness

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Today I wondered… why are people so quick to try to stop me from enjoying my self-deprecating humor?

I enjoy being funny and bringing others joy. I always have. I enjoy knowing I’m human and most days I’m just a shaved monkey clunking through each day as best I can, and at worst, a shaky bag of fear and pain and despair. But if I can put my perspectives and humility with my humor, am I not then bringing others laughter while still informing others not just of how I feel — but in a way that does not seek sympathy. I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m looking for understanding, and hoping you see that maybe that truth will help you one day, or help someone you love.

Isn’t laughter the best medicine? We have all made it through this life… laughing, yes… also crying… also screaming!

I have always returned to love and laughter. I have been sprawled out, shaking, broken on the floor, three feet short of the bathroom, literally dragging myself and trying to save my last pair of sweats — and then I have just stopped and laughed and cried and screamed. But I always laugh.

I have been alone the majority of my life, and I have kept laughing. Chronic illness keeps or drives a lot of people away. Some of those that want to care see this humor as “beating oneself up.” I do not see it this way. This is hard: every day waking up unsure, afraid. If you feel good, there’s always a chance that could end any minute and fatigue and pain could come. It’s nothing short of heroic for some people to get up and face the day every day. There are many worse than I am today, and they are the heroes you seek in the world and they need your love, too. Not your sorrys, not your tears, just love, presence and understanding.

If my jokes are at my own expense instead of others, is that not my currency to do with what I wish? I would rather not hear someone cry about ever nightmare, sob and wail — I know I wouldn’t, and they wouldn’t. We do that already. Trust me, we do — lots — and that’s the stuff I’d rather forget.

I do not want sympathy. It is not needed or necessary. We all have to accept our cards. However, if you do wish to be in my life, I hope through my humor and personal perspective and ability to bridge thoughts and views, I can help you better understand and help us grow together as the same.

Being heard is important to people with chronic illness. We know there is little anyone can do for us, or it would be done and we would be better. We know you can’t fix us. We know we can’t fix us. So there you go, folks — the pressure is off! It doesn’t make you a “bad person” to be happy around me. It doesn’t make you uncaring to laugh and smile. Not every day can be great. But we look for the ones that are, and hope you’ll be there ready to laugh along with us.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s the hardest thing you deal with as someone with a chronic illness, and how do you face this? What advice and words of support would you offer someone facing the same thing? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: April 1, 2016
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