Common Chronic Illness Misconceptions.

#1 Only the old get sick:
Illness does not discriminate.
We are fair game.

#2 Looks reflect feelings:
If you bumped into me in the street, you would not think that I was suffering.
I may appear to be okay, maybe a little tired, but on the inside my muscles are aching, my head is spinning, my stomach is churning.
What needs to be known is that I can leave my house looking decent, but feeling absolutely terrible.

#3 Stress reduction techniques cure illness (ie exercise, meditation, yoga):
When people hear that you are unwell, they assume that the things that usually provide average people with a better wellbeing, will help you. This includes Exercise, Meditation, Diet Change, Juice Cleanse & Detox, Yoga etc.
This is incorrect. I encourage the Chronically Ill to try these, as they may provide a temporary relief for symptoms, but they are not a cure!

#4 Being home all day is a dream lifestyle:
The first few weeks of being stuck at home are okay. They are hard to adjust to, but okay.
When you get to the two, six, eight month and year marks; being stuck at home every day is not as great as you think.
Why do people think we are at home, jumping for joy, throwing parties?
I’m not sure about you, but I’m usually crouched over the toilet, riddled in pain, having anxiety attacks, crawling on the floor, huddled in foetal position. I am bored by my daily routine of doing very little, as I am only able to do very little.

#5 If the illness cannot be formally diagnosed, then it doesn’t exist:
The symptoms I feel are very much real.
Just because it is not coming up in tests, does not mean that it does not exist.
People just want a title, as it helps them validate it.
Don’t feel like you owe anyone a validation.
Trust your instincts, as you know your body better than anyone else.

#6 We are ill because we are depressed:
This is such an offensive statement.
I have depression BECAUSE I am ill.

#7 We cannot date when we are ill:
We may not be able to go out to fancy restaurants or to bars/clubs, and be as active as we once were, but there are ways around this, and most importantly there are people out there who are willing to do these things with us. You just have to find them. Do not think that you will be alone forever, or that you won’t find anyone because you cannot meet people in a social environment.

#8 We are doing this to ourselves:
I’m not entirely sure how people come to this conclusion.
Maybe because they are unsure of how to accept the illness themselves.
It is again really offensive to imply that we are purposely hurting ourselves, or lying about being this ill.
I can assure you that we are not doing this to ourselves.
What would we have to gain from it?
Our lives are pretty messy, and our bodies non-negotiable.

#9 Having good days means that we are cured:
When an important occasion arises, we learn to put up with the symptoms of our illness, including terrible pain, so we can try to enjoy what we’re doing, especially being in the company of others. As the days past, we grow a tiny bit more accustomed to the symptoms. So then you ask, “Well why can’t you put up with it every day?”
We are exhausted. We cannot put on a brave face every day. We are entitled to rest, or else we will go backwards in our health. We are the ones who suffer behind closed doors.
One should not assume that a person who is laughing is a person who is pain-free or feeling “good”.

#10 Medication fixes everything:
Just because I am being trialled on medication, or have been given medication for a diagnosed medical condition, does not mean that I am cured. Medication assists in keep us on track and relieving symptoms, but it again is not a cure for our illnesses.
I also believe that Medication helps when you have a formal diagnosis. If you are in limbo, like I, and are being trialled on medication after medication, you can be left feeling more awful than you did before. People do not understand this. They just assume that “medicine fixes everything”.

#11 We are lazy because we are on Government Allowance:
I used to work a fulltime job working overtime, and ten days in a row at a time.
I then moved to Childcare and worked and studied fulltime, earning a generous pay packet weekly.
I do not enjoy being on Government Allowance.
Just because our bodies are weak and we are unable to do certain things, does not mean that we are lazy and don’t want to. It is not as easy as telling someone to get up and work.
I physically cannot do it at the moment, but that does not mean that one day I won’t be able to.
I, alongside many others, are striving to achieve that.

#12 Eating more will help you put on weight:
Firstly, if we are talking about me, you have to get my stomach to work!
Being constantly reminded of your weight loss, and being pushed to eat food like a garbage disposal is not the way to approach the situation. Eat as much as you can. Eat what you can. You know your body better than anyone else, and you are in full control of retraining it. The weight will come in time.

 If only future people will become educated about what life is like for the chronically ill, so that some day soon, all above will be seen as uncommon misconceptions and we will be better supported in our struggle!

This is a followup to my first post “What you shouldn’t say to someone who is chronically ill. Take a peek if you get a chance. I hope you like it!