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I May Be Chronically Ill, but There Is No Need to Pity Me

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The intake of breath, and downturned face. Their “realization” that I might die a lot sooner than they will, and slight relief at the fact that they aren’t afflicted by the same thing. Their instant guilt at the previous thought, and subsequent pity at my condition.

This is almost consistently how people respond to my chronic illness. I have come to recognize the look of pity on their faces, and well-meaning statements that follow.

“That’s horrible, will it ever be cured?” No, that is why it’s called chronic.
“At least it doesn’t hurt all of the time.” It actually does, I just usually don’t complain about it.
“You can always have my kidney if you need it.” While I appreciate the offer, I’m not sure you realize what that means to your health. There is a reason the national waitlist is so long.

I’m not saying that I don’t appreciate people willing to listen to me complain about my illness. Trust me, sometimes you just really need to blow off steam and any person will work. But, I could happily do without your pity. I already understand what my illness means, and have come to terms with it. I don’t need you to remind me that I am in a unsavory position, or that God might heal me. I also don’t need you to look upon me with consistent sadness; if I really want to wallow in my sadness I have enough on my own.

What I would like to hear is empathy. I want to know that my feelings are valid, and I want you to provide me with kind words about my resilience. I don’t need you to be sad for me, I want you to be glad that I am there in that moment. I want you to understand that I am still alive and fighting, and while it may not be favorable, I am alive.

Don’t treat me like a sick puppy, don’t treat me like I am already dead.

I am so thoroughly alive, and I will be until the moment I’m not. I am thriving despite the odds, so there is no need to pity me. Celebrate my victories instead of focusing on my defeats, support me instead of trying to fix me.

I love you and I love your compassion, but I will never need your pity because I am alive.

Photo by Billy Pasco on Unsplash

Originally published: January 27, 2019
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