freakout fridays, theme days

Freakout Friday: problems with respect, empathy, and compassion in the chronic illness community

Lately there has been a good amount of frustration within the chronic illness community. Much of that surrounds a level of bullying that shouldn’t exist for us. After all, most of us are working towards the same goal – raising awareness and promoting research opportunities to get closer to remission and to cures. Why does it feel like everyone is turning on each other?

Why is it okay to give condolences to parents who have lost their children several times a year until the end of the world, but we feel open to telling those who’ve lost their friends to get over it at some point? Or that no one cares?

Why is it okay for people to tell you to just ‘get over’ incredibly huge events in your life? Or move past them? There’s a HUGE amount of work involved in that.

Why do some bloggers think it’s okay to use your information without asking, and then get upset if you ask for it to be removed? And then badmouth you to others in your specific disease community? (yeah, that happened a while back)

Why is it okay for people to dismiss your feelings?

Why is it okay for people to push positivity in ways that end up bullying those of us who don’t?

Why is it okay for people to discuss their own mental health issues and then belittle others for doing so?

Why do we demand explanations from each other?

Why do we make each other feel like explanations or issues aren’t worth crap?

Why do we talk to each other with disdain or in short sentences or dismissively instead of supportively?

Why are those who are physically active bullied for being able to do so? Why are those who aren’t able to be physically active told their contributing to their disease and essentially being called lazy?

Why do we treat each other poorly enough that some give up advocacy or blogging or being active in our communities?

I feel like this all boils down to a lack of respect, empathy, and compassion. Honestly, I’m so tired of it.

Maybe there are a lot of people out there who don’t know what these words mean?

These are all terms we expect our doctors to have and to utilize with us as patients… so why aren’t we treating fellow patients accordingly?
We demand these character traits not only in our doctors, but also with our co-workers, our families, and our friends. People like to tout how they don’t see their ‘friends’ in the chronic illness community as any different than their real life friends… I honestly kind of hope they do, because treating your friends in the ways described above isn’t alright. It isn’t alright to be so dismissive, judgmental, and inconsiderate of any living being’s feelings that way, but I would hope that people treat those close to them a little better than that at least. Being a bully on top of lacking these qualities is just sad, especially in this day and age.
And treating one friend like crap and then another super great doesn’t make up for the crappy treatment.
Step it up you guys. Seriously.
The only way that we can change the health care systems in the world is to band together, to be a cohesive – and supportive – unit. So let’s everybody take a step back and examine your actions towards others and make sure you’re not contributing to the problem.

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1 Comment

  1. I can think of a few things that may be feeding this phenomenon:
    * People are extra jerky on teh interwebs. It's pretty well established that because of it's relative anonymity, people are just way nastier to each other online than they are IRL.
    * There may be a "cycle of abuse" thing going on. Many people with chronic illnesses/chronic pain are treated quite poorly by their families and "friends." They may think, then, that that's an acceptable way to treat people. Or, they may be taking out the frustration of those broken relationships out on someone else.
    * Defensiveness makes people do some crazy stuff. There are a million ways to "be sick" and all of them are right. When you see someone else doing it another way, and other people praising them for it, it's easy to forget your way is still right, too. The fastest way to fix that is to tear that other person down.

    I don't think any of these make it right, obviously, and I don't think any of them explain the whole situation, but I think they may be contributing factors. Thanks for your post, Kirsten. Let's all just play nice!

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