5 things chronically ill hear about appearances

Since we have invisible illnesses people can often make judgments about our chronic illness. In particular our appearance because we do not ‘look ill’.

Things we hear when we have a chronic illness:

You’re too young to be sick
You don’t look sick/in pain
If you lost weight/exercised you would feel better
You look so great! Are you feeling better?

This is not to say we can’t handle compliments. Just normal compliments. But we do have issues with our body.

You don't look ill

You look great! You lost weight and must be feeling better!

I got this one and for some reason, people think skinny is healthy. Hate to break it to you. It is not. And often if the chronically ill are losing weight it can be for health reasons. I am losing weight due to nausea and lack of appetite. And I have in the past lost weight because of medication. And oh the compliments I had and oh how much better I must be. No. Just no. I felt like crap. And the weight loss wasn’t a healthy loss or in any way the sort you would want.

If you just lost some weight you would feel better.

Thanks for the awesome advice. But some of us have thyroid issues and it is not as easy as that. Some of us have other health issues that complicate weight loss. I know many of us are on medications that all cause weight gain… years of that and we gain and gain and gain. So we don’t appreciate after all that gaining to be told that. It was damn well nothing we did that caused the weight gain usually. We felt crappy skinny. We feel crappy overweight. Weight doesn’t seem to be a factor, except it makes us feel like crap, just like these commenters do.

You don’t look sick/in pain

You don’t look hungry. Oh, you are? I don’t believe you because I cannot see it, so you must not be. I am just going to say this Once: How you look on the Outside does not reflect Inside health.

You are too young to be sick-

And yet oddly enough everyone can get sick. Some of us started early into the game. Others will start late. I started early. I got this a lot. But now I think I am officially in a range where it sucks to have a chronic illness, but I am not ‘too young’.

You look so great. Are you feeling better?

Looking awesome does not mean the person is cured. Doesn’t even mean they feel good. It means they wanted to be presentable. Or even feel good about looking good because they felt like crap.

It is not that we can’t take compliments. We can. Hell, I get IDed in a bar and I am glowing all night. I get hit on by someone younger than me and I feel flattered as all hell. *rawr* I’m a cougar. More than a few random people complimented me on my sunglasses and on my favourite hat. And I love my specs and hat. Or the fact, I don’t look my age. Hell, I can take compliments. But don’t for a second tell me I look great so I must not have a migraine that day. No. I can hide pain like no one’s business.

We just don’t like our compliments mixed in with health connotations. Don’t confuse external looks and appearance with health. Don’t confuse looks with health and wellbeing in any way or form. Compliment, sure, and leave it at that. Then, ask us if we are feeling good. Never assume based on appearance.

It is a lot like depression. The evil beast that it is, is damned easy to hide. No one would say ‘Oh you are happy today, guess that depression is gone then.’ I would seriously throat punch someone who said that. Seriously.

Other illness stigma posts:

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