There are times when people judge us for being ill. We are just lazy. We just need to exercise. We are not trying hard enough really. We just do not want to work. All sorts of judgements.
Here are some ways you can reply
- Well, aren’t you the Judge McJudgyPants. But yell it so everybody in the whole area can hear. Shame them! Yay!
- Oh, I just need to exercise? While you’re a couch potato. So what logic is that then?
- So if water will cure what ails me why doesn’t it prevent disease then? It doesn’t? What? How weird is that?
- Don’t throw rocks when you live in a glass house. What I mean by that is… someone is a little pudgy wudgy and shouldn’t judge me when they have their own problems.
- Don’t judge lest you find yourself judged. As in, what the hell were you thinking wearing that when you left the house? I’m sorry was that rude? I thought that was what we were doing.
- Yes, I actually already do that. And that. And that. Also that. And that too. So what you’re saying is you don’t? Oh my god, you’re going to get a chronic illness now. You better get on that. We all know vitamins prevent death. It is the path to immortality.
- I see. *Move closer* Valid point *move closer* By the way… I’m totally contagious. *laugh manically when they run*
- Beat them with your mobility aid if you have one
- Throat punch them. Every time. It is called behaviourism. The more throat punches the less likely they are to say something annoying. Behaviourism. Works.
- They make a judgement. You mention a flaw they have. Judgement. Flaw. Judgement. And flaw. When they call you mean say ‘doesn’t feel good, does it? Dick.’
Just some recommendations. In actual fact, it is difficult to deal with judgements because it can make US feel ashamed or guilty. And that can lead to self-stigma where we then blame ourselves for being ill and feel guilty and ashames ourselves.
We have to break the cycle and stand up for ourselves in some way. And really it comes down to Intent and Understanding.
If the intent is to offer you genuine help from something they read or heard about because they genuinely care about you, regardless of whether you have heard this thing before, tried it before, or know it doesn’t work… it means they care. It means they are thinking about you. It means they love you. It means it is coming from a good place. And in this case, a polite response is what is needed. Thank you, I have tried that, will try that, am trying that, a polite lie of ‘maybe I’ll try that’ if you know it is flawed in research like a meme of Facebook or something.
But if the intent is Blame… as in you are not Doing enough to cure yourself. And you are just being lazy. And you just don’t want to work, try hard enough, do the work to help yourself. You are not sick, just unhealthy. Then it is far more difficult because this is negative and this hurts and this sticks with us. You have to point out firmly your health is in the management of your doctor and you are following your doctor’s advice and treatment. In no way do you have to validate your illness to them. Prove it to them. You can say I am chronically ill whether you like it, believe it, or understand it. And that ‘your doubt doesn’t change my pain or illness or treatment but it hurts me deeply’.
My mom gives me advice often and I value you it and it comes from Understanding me, my pain, pain itself, what would motivate me to try things, things she has researched that may help me and many other ways. When someone knows you well and your illness well they may come up with some very good suggestions and ideas of things to give a go. My mom, for example, recommended Rhodiola for me, that helps with fatigue and fatigue with exercise. Ask me how much I knew about that. Nill. Zip. Nada. And it was a great recommendation. It does help me. And that is but one example. Now maybe your family members or loved ones are not a resource of great information but they are coming from a place of understanding what you are going through. They know you need to pace. Can’t always make plans. They know your limitations. They do not judge you. And they may make recommendations you have heard but it is coming from understanding where you are at physically and mentally.
And then there is just ignorance. Refusing to see where you are at physically, mentally or emotionally. Refusing to acknowledge how you are feeling at all. So refusing to admit you are as sick as you are or sick at all. So their recommendations… are more like judgements. More like blame. More like if only you did this… you’d be fine. It is ‘just all in your head’. And this is harmful. If it is someone we care about triple harmful. And the best solution I can think of for this is education, education, education. Bring them to a doctors appointment. Get them to read about the condition and symptoms. The treatments.
Combating stigma is a difficult thing to do. In my younger years I just never said I had fibromyalgia… people didn’t get what it was back then. And I just didn’t want the judgements. Got enough of that crap from doctors back in the day. Then as an adult, well, I was a very passive person… I took all that crap and I internalized it. Like I said, into self-stigma. And that doesn’t work either. Does a number on your self-worth. But now? Literally, have no fucks to give anymore. I will be blunt. And I don’t care. Not rude. Not harsh. Blunt. This is my disease whether you believe it, like it, doubt it… or whatever. I have to deal with it regardless of whatever that person thinks or feels. And frankly, I don’t give a damn about what they think or feel. I will ditch a doctor who doubts me. I will not put up with some random person’s judgements. I think the older you get the less you put up with. Or I just got sick of it all. The worse I feel the less I put up with. And I had a hard go of it with a workplace that was quite hostile to disabled workers… I learned a lot of lessons from that. Like… don’t ever work in a place like That again and also report the hell out of them and sue if need be. Yeah, if I had a re-do they would have learned Their lesson.
- If it comes from a place of empathy that counts. That isn’t judgement, that is caring
- If it comes with good intentions that matters, that isn’t judgement that is genuinely wanting to help… but maybe not know How to help
- If someone understands where you are coming from then you can have an open conversation and this can lead to good things. But still, maybe they do not know what to say or do… but being there for us goes a hell of a long way.
- We know from how we feel from what they say and how they say it… whether it is a judgement or someone just trying to help. And someone just trying to help because they do not know what to say, or what to do, or want to help but don’t know how… they are never the problem.