Many people in our community have been gaslit by doctors and undermined for the severity of their symptoms and conditions. We look to social media as a way to connect with others and find support. That is why disparaging words, like those written in the Daily Mail article, are particularly damaging to the chronic/invisible illness community. If you feel upset, angry, frustrated, attacked, or hurt by Emma James’ words—you are not alone. That is why Fight Like a Warrior has decided to partner with Healp to launch a campaign that not only responds to this article, but educates society on what our community goes through on a daily basis.
Joint statement from Fight Like a Warrior and Healp:
According to a study done by RAND, “nearly 150 million Americans are living with at least one chronic condition; around 100 million of them have more than one. And nearly 30 million are living, day in and day out, with five chronic conditions or more.”
Emma James, a journalist for the Daily Mail, has published an article stating that teenage girls and young adolescents are using their social media accounts to post upsetting footage and commentary about their invisible illnesses in order to gain attention and a larger following. James claims that chronic illness warriors are willing to post their personal medical complications to make people pity them and garner sympathy.
In the article, James describes the chronic illness community as a group of people that post about their personal life (more specifically their medical journeys) as people who just want clout. She believes these individuals are fakers playing the “victim card."
It’s difficult to respond to this in a calm and collected manner when medical gaslighting is brought into the conversation. To invalidate the experiences of the sick and disabled is a disheartening thing to do. The lack of empathy and compassion for those who don’t know what each day is going to entail or what they will be feeling/facing is harmful and inhumane. Thoughts like these are the exact reason people in the chronic illness community are fighting to end ableism.
The truth is, we hope Emma James never has to experience a long-term illness/disability that takes who you are and changes everything about you. We hope she never has to walk in our shoes and deal with doctors misdiagnosing our health conditions and ignoring our symptoms. We hope she never has to experience the pain of losing a job, losing friends/family members, and having to simply survive each day. We hope she never has to experience an unpredictable and debilitating illness. We hope she never has to experience the worrying and stress that comes with these conditions. We hope she never has to try and find accommodations that help her live in this limited and able-bodied world. We hope she never has to experience treatments, medications, and appointments as her daily routine.
This article posts propaganda, false statements, uses terms/medical issues out of context, and plagiarizes while also showing prejudice, internalized sexism, ignorance, and discrimination towards our community. This article promotes abuse towards individuals with chronic illnesses/disabilities. It’s damaging and triggering to those who have been diagnosed, those who are suffering in silence, and to those who are not yet accepting of their conditions.
Our quality of life is just as important as yours, Emma James. We deserve to have our voices heard and acknowledged instead of being dismissed or written off as “trying to get attention.” We are not “addicted to feeling sad.” We are addicted to changing society’s stigma towards us. We are addicted to connecting with people who have similar medical issues as ours. We are addicted to amplifying our importance and acceptance in society. We are dedicated to advocating for the sick and providing them with resources and information to help them cope and live with their conditions. We are dedicated to helping patients share their stories and find their support groups.
If one day you become a spoonie, Emma James, we promise our community will be more welcoming and open to you than you currently are to us. If one day you become a warrior, we hope you decide to open your mind and heart to fight this fight with us. Until then, please take note: OUR FIGHT IS REAL.
The #OurFightIsReal campaign will be
launching on Monday, October 17th, 2022.
Here’s how to participate:
Post a photo and/or video of you sharing your diagnoses and your thoughts/feelings towards this article.
Please start your caption saying “ I am joining @Healp.co and @FightLikeAWarrior to respond to @DailyMail”.
Use Emma James’ Daily Mail article, “Addicted to being sad: Teenage girls with invisible illnesses - known as 'Spoonies' - post TikToks of themselves crying or in hospital to generate thousands of likes - as experts raise concerns over internet-induced wave of mass anxiety” as the background in your post/video.
Post Instructions: Add a photo of the article at the end or beginning of your post.
Video Instructions: If you are creating a video, you might consider using the article as the background or including a picture as a reference.
Post it on your: Feed, Story, IG Reels, or TikTok and use the hashtag “#OurFightIsReal” and tag @fightlikeawarrior and @healp.co and @dailymail (please tag all three accounts.)
We encourage you to participate and help us amplify our voices and stories. There is power in storytelling. There is freedom in storytelling. We must shed light on this topic.
Help us bring awareness and attention to people living with chronic illnesses/disabilities by taking part in our campaign because #OurFightIsReal!