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Why It's Hard to 'Brush Off' Comments Made About My Illness

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I manage to go to work, bringing all my pills in case things get to unbearable, and start my work…taking things slow.

I know I should be home resting.

I can feel my body starting to ache, my intestines feeling like I swallowed a bunch of sharp knives with a mind of their own. The thought crossed my mind, “ Maybe I should take a half day today?”

Financially I can’t. And it would look bad with human resources and management.

So I decide to stay.

It is at this point when my supervisor comes over. We start discussing a project I am working on. Toward the end of this discussion I hear my supervisor say, “Assuming you don’t call in tomorrow…”

He spoke more words after that. But I could not hear them.

I just sat there. Feeling like those words were an arrow through my chest.

Once the discussion ended, I stared at my computer. I know my supervisor pretty well, and I know he didn’t mean it in a way to make me feel bad. But he doesn’t realize…

Every day I come in is a fight.

Every time I call in is because I know trying to work through certain symptoms is terrible for me, health wise, and I will land in the hospital again.

I know all this. I tell myself this, and if this was the only comment I have heard from anyone I would have just brushed it off.

But it is not.

When I have had to go home from a girl’s day out due to extreme pain, my friend told me that she thought it was an excuse to leave.

When I have had to cancel last minute on a road trip, I had another friend say that “it would have been nice to know just how you were doing sooner.”

I have had my parents blame me for when I land in the hospital – every time it happens.

The list is long of the hurtful comments people have made towards me and my disease.

I have come to learn that most people want to “fix” my condition, and cannot handle the fact that this condition does not have a cure.

And because my disease is pretty much invisible, sometimes people forget I have it.

The ones that remember they cannot handle the fact that treatments don’t always work. And sometimes they stop working.

I use to get enraged by this misunderstanding. And I would tell them off in a glorious manner that, if you saw on the silver screen, would clap going “you tell them girl!”

However this is real life and that doesn’t work.

I have had to come to terms with the fact that only people who have my condition will really understand. And only those with autoimmune diseases will be able to listen with a warm heart, saying I can talk to them any time.

Yes, It still hurts when comments are made about my flakiness.

But every time an arrow is shot with those piercing words, I gently pull it out, and stitch up the wound with a few calming long breaths. Apply some self love and conciliation for ointment and rap it with the truth I hold onto very tightly; it’s not my fault. My disease is flaky, not me. And then I put on my armer of humor.

And at the end if the day, the only person whose opinion matters about me is myself alone.

Getty Image by Chattrawutt

Originally published: May 25, 2018
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