Thursday, May 14, 2015

13 common chronic illness misconceptions

There are many chronic illness misconceptions, but these are 13 that I thought were important to address:

1: "You're too young to have that!"
Chronic illness has no discrimination against age, gender, ethnicity, etc. The sad reality is that anyone can have a chronic illness - including children and teenagers.

2: "But you don't look sick." 
The fact is that 96 percent of chronic illnesses are invisible to the eye, but on the inside there's a whole different story. Just because one may look "fine" doesn't mean they are. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean we can’t feel it.

3: "All you need to do is exercise more!"
While exercising is essential for good health, a lot of people with chronic illness try to be able to exercise and be normal, but it's hard when you have limited energy and constant pain. Also, certain exercising could cause the chronic illness to get worse. It's ultimately the patient and doctor's decision as to whether or not it would be beneficial.

4: "Just take wheat or *fill in the blank food* out of your diet and you'll be cured!"
Yes, eating a healthy diet is extremely important, but it can't cure a chronic illness. Fixing your diet won't fix your genetics. While it would be good for you, a certain food or plant doesn't have the magical cure. 

5: "Oh yeah, I had a pulled muscle and UTI once so I can totally relate."
While this may seem like lending out a sweet hand of understanding, it can frustrate some people with chronic illness quite a bit. While dealing with any type of pain is bad, and I feel like trying to minimize anyone's pain is wrong and unacceptable, there's a large difference between a strained muscle and your body attacking itself and causing chronic pain. 

6: "Oh, she's in a wheelchair, she must be paralyzed."
Wheelchair doesn't automatically mean paralyzed just like hospital doesn't automatically mean cancer. You can be in a wheelchair and still be able to walk and move your legs, you just may not be able to walk well or it may be painful.

7: "I wish I could lie around all day like you do!"
Netflix and internet can only entertain you for so long. It's boring and most chronically ill teenagers would rather be hanging out with friends and outside rather than resting all day. Having a chronic illness isn't a luxury.

8: "Look she's walking around, she must be better!"
Just because someone with a chronic illness is able to do more and run one day doesn't mean they won’t suffer from it that night and still be sick. Yay for the good days, but just because one day is better doesn’t mean they’re cured and without pain the next day.

9: "Oh, they're just dumb teens, they don't understand their illness."
NO, NO, NOOO. Incorrect. False. Blasphemy! Teenagers with chronic illness know about their illnesses and what goes on in their bodies better than anybody. They know exactly what they are going through, and treating them like they don't is demeaning and ignorant. No. This is not okay.

10: "Oh, she just takes her mediation for an emotional fix."
I have been told this so many times. While some may take their medication to get high, the majority take it to treat a legitimate and painful diagnosis. Saying this can be extremely unhelpful and offensive. Plus for me I doubt I can get high off blood thinners and anti-seizure medications. Do your homework before accusing anyone of this.

11: "All you have to do is ask for medication then you're fine."
Again: incorrect, false, blasphemy! For somebody with chronic illness, medication doesn't just "fix" you. A lot of times the medications don't even work or the side effects are worse than the disease itself! Medications

for a chronic illness usually just touch the surface to manage symptoms.

12: "You're just lazy!"
When you have a chronic illness your body is literally attacking itself. Attacking your blood and organs is tiring enough, but then add on 5-6+ medications that all have a major side effect for fatigue. Wouldn't you want to take a nap too? It's not laziness when you want to get out and be active, but you have zero energy whatsoever. 
13: "She cancelled plans on me, she obviously doesn't want to hang out."

With chronic illness you have very limited energy and flares can happen at any time. It's not because we don't want to hang out with you, trust me we would much rather hang out with you then be in bed, we just aren't able. 

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