Why Does Nobody Understand That I'm Ill?

Why Does Nobody Understand That I'm Ill?

So many chronic illness sufferers feel like their loved ones don't care or understand. Why is this such a common phenomenon and can it be changed?
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This question seems to be a running theme throughout those of us who suffer with chronic illnesses -- particularly the ones that don’t come with a wheelchair, or any other visual signs of our ailments. More distressing, the question seems to be directed, most often, at the sufferer’s nearest and dearest.

So many people I’ve spoken to feel like their family rejects their diagnosis, that their closest friends ignore their problems, or their loved ones fail to give them the support they need. Lord knows, I’ve been there myself; endless hours of frustration, wondering why no one seems to give a toss about my problems.

This theme seemed so recurrent throughout all the support groups, Facebook chats, and blog posts I’ve seen from fellow spoonies, that I began to wonder whether there was an explanation behind it -- we all couldn’t be surrounded by rubbish people, could we?

It’s a touchy subject, for those on both sides of the discussion. Accusing your loved ones of failing to understand or telling sufferers that their annoyance is invalid are both dangerous games to play. However, this is something that we really need to talk about -- and I think I’ve gotten to the bottom of it.

“But I Told Them I Was Ill…”

In my opinion, it comes down to this: you can say you’re ill, you can express that you’re in pain until you’re blue in the face, but without being able to experience it themselves -- how can anyone really understand what that means? Think about it; really consider your problem. If you’re anything like me, the symptoms are such a minute part of the overall struggle. The real hardships come from the repercussions of being in pain all the time -- the exhaustion, the mental blur, the inability to connect with the world around me because of the constant blinding discomfort.

I’ve developed ways to deal with it, but my loved ones don’t know that. They don’t understand that I need things to be planned far in advance but, on the other hand, my life has to be flexible in case a bad flare-up emerges. They don’t know that even the simplest of things become so unbelievably complicated when you’re sick; that eating food is a delicate process, which, if not handled correctly, will end of hours of horror and discomfort, or that sleep is an uncertain and complicated experience that can be ruined by even the slightest thing. Healthy people can’t even begin to comprehend that getting up on a morning and leaving the house is akin to climbing Mount Everest when you’re constantly carrying the demons of your illness.

“But Can’t They See My Pain….?”

This was another one that I struggled with for a while. I was so certain that I wore my pain and discomfort on my sleeve at every moment; that my intense nausea would be obvious to all onlookers, or the electric needles of agony shooting up and down my spine and legs was written all over my face. When you’re living a life of chronic illness, you often underestimate how incredibly well you learn to deal with it. You forget that, whilst your inside might be raging in an ongoing battle, your exterior is calm and composed, and you act like any other human.

I’d traipse around on nights out or daytime trips, getting so annoyed because it seemed like my companions were ignoring my struggles. They’d suggest we go elsewhere, walk some more, or add another activity on -- and I was sure they were doing it to spite me. This, obviously, was far from the truth.

“But They Still Don’t Understand…”

Finally, and perhaps the most heartbreaking, this reason for lacking sympathy was something that I only really came to accept after months of discussing my condition with my boyfriend. We really struggled at the start of our relationship. He really didn’t get it, and the differences in our understanding often led to blows. Even once I managed to explain to him, the rift still existed. But here I began to see something that I could also apply to a lot of other close relationships in my life.

It comes down to this: these people love you so much, so seeing you in constant, incurable pain is almost as excruciating as if they were suffering themselves. They want you to be better, they want you to not suffer; so how do they deal with that? They pretend it doesn’t exist. This is controversial -- I know -- and I’m not going to claim it is a fact, merely the summary of my observations. However, the more I began to consider it, the more I saw it in action.

Remember how hard it was for you to come to terms with your illness? Well your friends and family have to do that as well, and they don’t have the benefit of the constant myriad of symptoms to remind them that it is very much real. The human brain is a subpar tool, particularly when it comes to dealing with difficult emotions, and often its responses are out of our control. Instead of facing our problems and gradually accepting it, we often push things down and reject them from our consciousness. I truly believe this is why so many people struggle to get the support and acceptance that they need from loved ones.

“Why Do I Always Have To Be The Strong One….?”

Unfortunately, this is where things get complicated, because even if you’re able to objectively understand all these factors it doesn’t stop you needing support or having specific requirements. If your friends and family can’t empathize then often they’ll come across as cold-hearted; they’ll tell you to "man up" or equate your problems with their own -- trust me, your back pain will never be the same as a bad Fibromyalgia flare up. This can be detrimental when you’re already struggling to cope and, sadly, I don’t have a foolproof answer for how to deal with it. If they can’t see our pain and they don’t understand anyway, then how are we ever going to get that support? It’s a tricky question, and one that leads many chronically ill people to isolate themselves, or only socialize with fellow sufferers.

All I can say is stay true to your needs, don’t push yourself for the sake of others, be as open as you can, try to explain as much as possible, and -- if only a little -- give them some leeway; they’re only human too.

Cover Image Credit: Shutterstock

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I'd Rather Be Single Than Settle – Here Is Why Being Picky Is Okay

They're on their best behavior when you're dating.
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Dating nowadays described in one word: annoying.

What's even more annoying? when people tell you that you're being too "picky" when it comes to dating. Yes, from an outside perspective sometimes that's exactly what it looks like; however, when looking at it from my perspective it all makes sense.

I've heard it all:

"He was cute, why didn't you like him?"

"You didn't even give him a chance!"

"You pay too much attention to the little things!"

What people don't understand is that it's OKAY to be picky when it comes to guys. For some reason, girls in college freak out and think they're supposed to have a boyfriend by now, be engaged by the time they graduate, etc. It's all a little ridiculous.

However, I refuse to put myself on a time table such as this due to the fact that these girls who feel this way are left with no choice but to overlook the things in guys that they shouldn't be overlooking, they're settling and this is something that I refuse to do.

So this leaves the big question: What am I waiting for?

Well, I'm waiting for a guy who...

1. Wants to know my friends.

Blessed doesn't even begin to describe how lucky I am to have the friends that I do.

I want a guy who can hang out with my friends. If a guy makes an effort to impress your friends then that says a lot about him and how he feels about you. This not only shows that he cares about you but he cares about the people in your life as well.

Someone should be happy to see you happy and your friends contribute to that happiness, therefore, they should be nothing more than supportive and caring towards you and your friendships.

2. Actually, cares to get to know me.

Although this is a very broad statement, this is the most important one. A guy should want to know all about you. He should want to know your favorite movie, favorite ice cream flavor, favorite Netflix series, etc. Often, (the guys I get stuck on dates with) love to talk about themselves: they would rather tell you about what workout they did yesterday, what their job is, and what they like to do rather than get to know you.

This is something easy to spot on the first date, so although they may be "cute," you should probably drop them if you leave your date and can recite everything about their life since the day they were born, yet they didn't catch what your last name was.

3. How they talk about other women.

It does not matter who they're talking about, if they call their ex-girlfriend crazy we all know she probably isn't and if she is it's probably their fault.

If they talk bad about their mom, let's be honest, if they're disrespecting their mother they're not going to respect you either. If they mention a girl's physical appearances when describing them. For example, "yeah, I think our waitress is that blonde chick with the big boobs"

Well if that doesn't hint they're a complete f* boy then I don't know what else to tell you. And most importantly calling other women "bitches" that's just disrespectful.

Needless to say, if his conversations are similar to ones you'd hear in a frat house, ditch him.

4. Phone etiquette.

If he can't put his phone down long enough to take you to dinner then he doesn't deserve for you to be sitting across from him.

If a guy is serious about you he's going to give you his undivided attention and he's going to do whatever it takes to impress you and checking Snapchat on a date is not impressive. Also, notice if his phone is facedown, then there's most likely a reason for it.

He doesn't trust who or what could pop up on there and he clearly doesn't want you seeing. Although I'm not particularly interested in what's popping up on their phones, putting them face down says more about the guy than you think it does.

To reiterate, it's okay to be picky ladies, you're young, there's no rush.

Remember these tips next time you're on a date or seeing someone, and keep in mind: they're on their best behavior when you're dating. Then ask yourself, what will they be like when they're comfortable? Years down the road? Is this what I really want? If you ask yourself these questions you might be down the same road I have stumbled upon, being too picky.. and that's better than settling.

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Buying New Clothes Every Month Has Been The Key To Helping Me Become Happy With My Body Again

Loving my body in new outfits has boosted my self image so much.

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Being body-positive has been really hard for me to do throughout 2019, despite there being an overwhelming surge in body-positivity around me, whether through my friends and family or YouTube. I look in the mirror and what I see is someone I want to make a jean size or two smaller like in the past. That being said, I've slowly been coming around to accepting the body I have now, instead of bashing it constantly. A key way I've come to accept the body I'm in now is through buying myself something new every month, like a new T-shirt or a pair of jeans or sneakers that help me see myself in a positive light. When I'm in a new outfit, I feel invincible. I don't think about how pudgy my stomach is, or about the hair I have growing in random places, like my neck or on my nose (yes, not just in, but ON too).

My bank account tends to suffer as of recently because of this, but it's worth it when I can genuinely feel good in what I am wearing every day. I like to wake up and think about how many outfits I can put together, ready to post my #OOTD for Snapchat without caring what anyone thinks. I've let social media dictate how I feel about myself more than I care to admit. I see how perfect all the models are in everything they're wearing from brands I know and love, yet when I try the same thing on, it's a whole different ugly story.

I don't enjoy trying things on to avoid the shame I feel when things don't fit me right, or if something that I thought would flatter me actually makes me look like a sack of potatoes. Instagram has really hurt my body image a lot — enough to make me delete it for a week after one post sent me spiraling. Going through those bumps made me finally realize it's not my fault if something doesn't fit. Sizes range depending on the item, it's the clothing items fault, not mine. Now that I see that, it's easier to brush off something not fitting me as it should. I know my size very well in the stores I frequent the most, so it's easier for me to pick out things I know will look good and not have to worry about the sizing issue.

Buying yourself something new is not something you should limit to every few months or longer. You shouldn't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone price wise every once and a while either. Coupons exist, stories always offer you them when you first sign up to receive emails and even texts. You can be crafty and still get a high price item for less. If you treat yourself to cheap things, you won't feel half as good as you want to. Granted, sticking to a limit is important but there's no shame in going over the limit every once and a while.

I love shopping as much as I love country music and writing short stories — a lot. Yes, I get yelled at almost every time I get something new. I need to save my money for important things, like for my sorority or for medical issues that could suddenly arise, or for utilities at my house next year off campus.

However, my mental well-being is not something I can ignore.

I can't push the good feelings aside to save 30 or 40 bucks a month. I don't want to feel as low as I've felt about myself anymore. I'm tired of feeling sad or angry at who I am, and I want to learn how to accept myself as I am. Buying myself something new, like clothes, is what offers a positive light to view myself under.

Whether you treat yourself to dinner at your favorite restaurant, or to face masks, or to a new movie when it comes out — don't be afraid to do it. Put yourself first and you'll realize your worth and how much you've been ignoring it in the face of poor confidence.

My confidence isn't back up to where it used to be, but it's getting there.

It may not be the most cash efficient method of self-love, but my body positivity is better than it was a few months ago. Aerie and American Eagle have really helped me become happier with my body, and I can't thank them enough for being more inclusive for people like me who are learning to love themselves again in a new body.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel for all of us hoping to promote our own body positivity, and it could all start with a simple purchase from your favorite store after you read this.

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