One thing I’ve noticed since I got sick is both abled and chronically ill people like to “one up” each other when it comes to health struggles. This needs to stop.
There will always be someone in a worse situation, in more pain, and for much longer than you. Telling others who are struggling ” you’re new to this, I’ve done it for X amount of years,” or “well I’ve been in the hospital X amount of times,” isn’t helpful at all. It won’t make your situation better and it won’t make the other persons situation any easier.
We should be sharing our experiences, and tips in such a way that we are offering up help to others, instead of telling them off because they’ve been sick for less time than you. Don’t invalidate others struggles, because you think you’ve had it worse. While most chronically ill people can relate in some way to one another, you can never fully know someone else’s experience. It’s okay for something to be easy for one chronically ill person and really hard for another. We’re all different, and our experiences are going to be different.
At times I find myself thinking, “If only I had _ disease/syndrome/illness then I would have a straight forward treatment plan and know what to do.” After thinking that I try to remind myself that I will never know what it’s like to deal with a medical issue that I don’t have and can’t understand the hardships of it.
At times I am exhausted and I do not want to fight anymore. It can be comforting to know others have gone through the same thing as you, and are further along in their journey, but it can be frustrating when they people act like you have it easy because you’ve been sick for a shorter amount of time than them. I didn’t choose when I got sick, or what I have, and neither did you or anyone else.
If you became ill as an adult, then you will never understand how hard it is to be a teenager and be sick. My childhood ended abruptly when I got sick at the age of twelve. My whole world stopped. Now I’m seventeen, dropped out of high school, I don’t have friends and I stay home all day. I have not had a single piece of a “normal” teenage life. I know there are many other chronically ill teenagers, but when you don’t know any it can be difficult.
On the flip side I can’t understand what it is like to be an adult and be chronically ill. I don’t know what it’s like to try to raise kids, get married, and keep a job while battling your illnesses. I have no idea what it’s like to have to stop working or go on disability. I’m afraid that in the years to come I will learn these things, but for now they aren’t part of my reality.
Chronic illness can be detrimental to our mental health, and tearing others down will only make it worse. I’ve seen so much empathy, and love for one another in the “spoonie community” and I hope to see more of it. Let’s lift each other up, and help one another heal!
Lots of Love,