Let’s face it, you will encounter people who just do not understand your illnesses. You probably already have. I have different ways of dealing with these people based on how or why they do not understand the conditions I’ve been diagnosed with. The following are some of the different categories people fall under and how to deal with them:
#1. People who are completely clueless of the disease you have been diagnosed with. Now, this is where most people you know or interact with begin. Unless they have other loved ones with similarly upsetting health, most have never heard of a lot of these devastating conditions. I personally did not know many of these conditions existed until I was diagnosed with them myself and became apart of the Spoonie community.
It is where people go from here that really matters.
#2. People who deny or ignore your illness. If these people are family or close friends, you can try to educate them with medical journals, your health records, or even a simple google search. But if they continue to deny that you are in fact sick, you may have to distance yourself from them. I have encountered a few people like this who have denied Fibromyalgia exists or that maybe my Rheumatoid Arthritis will go away on its own… Sometimes it became so stressful and damaging to my health that I had to distance myself from these people.
#3. People who don’t even try to understand your diagnoses. There are some people out there who may realize you are ill, and accept it, but don’t really understand the details. They may just not want to take the time to ask or look it up themselves, but they do acknowledge that you have illness/es. You can try to subtly inform them of what you’re going through in hopes that they will have a better understanding, but, in the end, they at least believe you are ill.
#4. People who both deny your illnesses and don’t even try to understand them. These people are the main issue. They are willfully writing off your diagnosis and neglecting to educate themselves about it. It makes it very difficult to communicate with them because they have zero empathy; as it is quite hard to have empathy when you don’t understand or acknowledge that there is a problem in the first place. These are the people who will encourage you to eat healthier, pray harder, exercise more, try fad diets and shakes, or to get out of the house and in to nature! All I can do is shake my head and walk away with my assistive devices because while they can ignore the fact that I am sick, I can not!
In the end, you have to realize that some people just aren’t going to get it, and that is their problem, not yours. What you need to decide for yourself is, is it worth it to hang out with these people when they make you feel worse than you already do? The choice to continue surrounding yourself with negativity is yours, but some people you just can’t change.
Do what is best for you and what feels right. But in my experience, life got so much better when I stopped talking to people who made me feel worse about myself over things I can’t control.