5 reasons people give you advice about your illness

When you are chronically ill people will offer you advice and tell you things they have heard. I know we get that a lot. I know it can be frustrating. I know it can make us angry sometimes.

So why do people give chronic illness advice?

What we have to remember is the perspective of the other person.

  • They care for you. They want to help and have no idea how to do so. So when they hear about something they share it, in hopes you find it beneficial.
  • They don’t like seeing you suffer. Your pain causes them pain. They wish they could take it from you but they can’t. So they offer advice, in hopes that is something they can offer, just a small thing instead.
  • They want to do something. They don’t know what to do or say but want to show solidarity. So they mention something they heard and they use that to show that they care about what you told them. It is an act of kindness and solidarity with your illness.
  • They don’t know you well but they want to relate to you. So they hear what you say and they have no idea what to say so they immediately try to find something they can compare, a contrast in their related experience.
  • They love you. And they will find anything on the topic, remember it and share it with you because they will do anything they can that can remotely help you.

None of this comes from a bad place. Most of it comes from a very good place.

I am excluding those where it actually Does come from a bad place. That type demands you must go Gluten-free, for example, or you don’t want to cure yourself. If you don’t do their recommendation then clearly you don’t want to help yourself enough. They guilt you. Make you feel ashamed. Others blame you for being ill in the first place. It was something you did that you need to take control over. Or they are just trying to sell you a cure.

However, for those who are just normal people with suggestions remember:

  • They don’t know you already tried it
  • They don’t know it won’t work
  • They don’t know there is no research behind it.
  • They don’t know Facebook cures are not a good source of information
  • They don’t know what you have and have not tried.
  • They know very, very little about your disease.
What I am getting at here is that I think we should not get angry about these recommendations. Even ones out of the blue from some random stranger. They are common enough that we know people just want to contribute based on the information they have. Politely telling them why that does not work for you, isn’t going to harm anyone. The person meant no insult.
Now some will be repeat offenders. Mostly people you know in your life. Ask yourself this? Are they recommending horrible things? Or just things you have tried? It could be some things are worth considering.
If, on the other hand, if chronic illness advice bothers you and you do not find it ever productive at all that is when you have a conversation about it. You tell them you have a treatment plan already. Other treatments can conflict with what you have, including vitamins and supplements. Tell them in the past you have tried many different things to no avail. And that your current treatment plan is what you are going with.

More chronic illness posts:

Chronic illness: How we are socially noticeable

Chronic illness: You’re faking it

The unpredictability and downturns of chronic illness

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