I have found that it is sometimes difficult to describe my conditions, honestly, and with full-disclosure, without people “feeling bad” for me.
I also hate to play the “victim” role, and I certainly try not to, but when I really delve into the complexities of the conditions I have lived with, it kind of sounds that way…like I’m a victim of some great injustice or something.
I hate that.
So I am posting this blog to ask: how SHOULD we talk about arthritis and chronic illness?
To me, there’s such a fine line between being truthful and open, versus sounding like an alarmist, or someone who needs to be pitied.
This has to change. We should be able to talk about our conditions without people “feeling bad for us.” On one hand, I want people to realize and understand what I deal with, what my limitations are, what I’ve been through, etc. On the other hand, though, I don’t want them to view me as any different from anyone else, or as less of a person, or any less strong, and worthy, and I certainly don’t want pity.
It’s hard to want people to understand and empathize, if you also don’t want them to feel bad for you or look at you any differently. It often seems that with understanding comes “that look” and “those sad eyes” and, more often than not, “you poor thing” or “you’re too young for all of this,” with a shake of the head.
Yes – having health problems stinks! But, I don’t want pity. I just want understanding when I need it; I just want help when I need it. I don’t want to make it change what you think about me. I don’t want to live with a stigma or just be labeled as “that sick girl” … or any other label, for that matter.
I’m me, chronic illness is just a part of me….and the sum of me is greater than its parts.
What do you guys think? How do you broach the sensitive topics of chronic illness and disability? Leave a comment!
What’s YOUR weapon against arthritis?