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Before You Label People Living With Illnesses as 'Complainers'

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“I give her credit for not complaining.”

I begin by asking one question in response to this statement I’ve heard one too many times, “Why?”

Why would someone give another credit for not complaining?

What is this deeply intwined issue that many have with hearing a person express themselves during trying times? Does it reflect that part of ourselves we’re trying to hush away, silent, turn off, run away from by hiding behind a screen?

Is it because if someone did choose to complain, it makes them less than? Self-involved? Would it dampen your mood? Hmm…doesn’t that make you self-involved?

Pain and hardship are a part of this thing we live out called the human condition. Life isn’t rainbows and unicorns. While it does help to to maintain logic and awareness of our own emotions, in a positive sense, why does it bother others so much to hear a complaint during a difficult time?

Key words: Difficult times.

In the fibromyalgia community, we’ve gotten the bad rap of being complainers, more so than any other illness. Why? Because there’s no blood test or MRI to 100 percent prove that our illness is “real.” Yet, medical professionals diagnose us based on an array of specific and very real symptoms.

Living with fibro is much like having a mental health issue – you experience it, but it’s hard for others to feel compassion without being inside your body. You get the (in)direct critique, the curious questions, the unsolicited advice…and at times it is daunting and tiresome to have to be your own advocate. Other times, it is refreshing that someone is showing sincere interest in an issue that affects the heck out of your life.

I’m a believer that complaining doesn’t get me anywhere I want to go, but sometimes I feel the need. I try to keep it to a minimum as to not drain me. Beyond that, I want to be honest about my situation for my own safety. What are your thoughts on this ongoing trend of complain shaming?

Photo by Sorin Sîrbu on Unsplash

Originally published: September 20, 2018
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