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The misconceptions about chronic illness make me sick and sometimes laugh. Because not only are they false, they’re just ridiculous. Being told ‘we don’t look sick’, we’re lazy or boring. That’s just to name a few. It’s annoying and frustrating having to hear such crap or feeling like we must justify ourselves all the time.
It can also be very upsetting, particularly when those misconceptions are coming from people you love or care about. That’s one reason I started the blog, to give those with chronic pain and illness a place to be seen, and heard and to call people out on their bullshit.
So, today I’m here to debunk 8 misconceptions about chronic illness, and let people know the real.
1. We’re Lazy
Lying in bed all day may sound like a dream come true, but for those of us living with chronic illness, it can be far from it. Being bed bound is a necessity, not a choice. Instead of being a relaxing day, it is often filled with pain, nausea, and sadness.
We aren’t able to do the simple things that others take for granted, and our rest days are essential to managing our health. So while lying in bed may be part of our reality, it is far from the luxurious and enjoyable day that many people think it is.
2. We use chronic illness as an excuse to get out of things
Despite what people may think, we don’t use chronic illness an excuse to turn down invites or cancel plans.
We often have to turn down invitations or drop out at the last minute because we know our bodies and how much it can take before we burn out. We understand that pushing ourselves too far can lead to flare-ups, so we have to be careful not to overdo it.
So the next time you think someone is using their chronic illness as an excuse, think twice.
3. We’re rude or negative
Yes, sometimes we may be irritable. We may not always be in the best spirits. We may even be a little snappy. But that doesn’t mean we’re negative or rude.
Our symptoms are relentless, unpredictable and intense. We have no control over that. Which can bring about so many emotions, which dictate our mood and how we communicate.
We’re not rude or negative, we’re human and understandably responding to the wild cards our bodies constantly throw at us.
4. We’re attention seekers
Out of all attention, having chronic pain or a lifelong illness is NOT the type of attention I want, and I’m sure anyone living with a chronic illness feels the same. But having people speak about their illness and advocate for others is necessary. It helps so many feel seen, heard and like they’re not alone.
To be honest, I’ve learnt way more from those sharing their own experiences than I have from any doctor. Seeing the bravery people in the chronic illness community inspired me to start the blog.
So, no, we’re not seeking attention! We’re seeking community and information.
5. We look ‘too good’ to be sick
But you don’t look sick… How many times have you heard that old chestnut?
A common misconception about chronic illness is if that if you don’t ‘look’ a particular way, you can’t be ill or in pain. Which is total bs!
I’m love skincare, clothes and doing my hair and makeup. It’s just a part of who I am and it’s something I will not allow chronic pain to take from me.
So many people assume I can’t be in ‘that much pain’ because I look too ‘put together’. But behind the cute outfits and mascara. You don’t see me having to lie down every few minutes just to moisturise my skin. Or near to passing out whilst combing my hair because I’m in extreme amounts of pain.
Don’t judge based on what you can or can’t see.
Each person and their illness is different. Some may have visible symptoms, whilst others are invisible. The way a person looks has nothing to do with whether they have a chronic illness.
6. We ‘pick and choose’ when to be sick
Chronic illness can be unpredictable. One day, the symptoms may be bearable and the next day they can be excruciating. Which can be because of no particular thing or things, such as sleep, stress, or activity levels. It varies from person to person and illness to illness.
So yesterday we might have been able to do a ‘thing’ and the following day we’re bed bound. Unfortunately, we don’t have a superpower to determine when we do and don’t feel well. If that were the case, we wouldn’t have a chronic illness.
7. Having a Chronic Illness is the End of Life as You Know It
This is far from the truth. While chronic illnesses can have serious implications for a person, it does not have to be the end of life as you know it. People with chronic illnesses can live fulfilling lives and should never give up on their dreams or goals.
With proper management and support, people living with chronic illnesses can still do the things they love. Living a full life is still possible!
8. A Healthy Diet and Exercise Will Cure Your Chronic Illness
One of the most damaging misconceptions about chronic illnesses is that simply eating well and exercising will “cure” you. Which totally ignores the fact that many chronic illnesses, such as autoimmune diseases, cannot be cured and require lifelong management.
Of course, having an overall healthy lifestyle can lead to improved quality and help prevent or manage symptoms of some chronic illnesses. That does not mean it’s a cure.
Maybe you are just faking it
Hearing all these misconceptions about chronic illness can, over time, make you question yourself. Maybe I am lazy, maybe I should push myself, maybe I am seeking attention…
Honestly, I’ve felt that way so many times. When you’re hearing those things constantly, it’s easy to think ‘well everyone keeps saying these things to me, so maybe they’re right.’
No Hun, they’re not. Not all opinions are true!
Your illness is real, you’re not lazy and you’re not being extra. Your feelings, illness, and the way you manage them are valid.
What are some misconceptions about chronic illness you’re tired of hearing? Debunk them in the comments.
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