I want to write something deep and profound here about the annoying part of living with chronic illness, where well-meaning people offer ‘helpful’ advice to the suffering party. But instead I’ll just go whole-hog and say what I really think.
Shocking, I know.
Offering helpful advice to long term sufferers of chronic illnesses such as depression, anxiety, cancer, diabetes, insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia…. is not helpful.
I’ve honest to God lost count of the times people have asked me if I’ve tried herbal remedies or hypnosis for my insomnia.
Lost count of the amount of times I’ve been told to “not let things get to me so much, just relax”.
Lost count of the times I’ve been told what to eat and what to avoid for diabetes, obesity, whatever.
The simple truth is that people who have suffered from things for a long time are really quite tired of the ‘helpful advice’, because it begs the belief that they haven’t already put their heart and soul into getting better.
A bad night of sleep here and there does not even come close to the misery of living with chronically diagnosed insomnia.
That time you felt really sad for a few weeks isn’t what depression is like.
And that friend of a friend who got cured of cancer by eating aloe vera and vitamin C isn’t real.
Please, just stop.
When people are talking about how tired they are of suffering, sometimes the best approach is just to sit there, listen, and then say “I’m sorry, that sucks.” We’re not looking for advice, and while you may think we’re not open to new suggestions, unless you have a medical degree or are in some kind of relationship with my health and well-being on a personal level, you don’t really get to say anything.
Insomnia is not a few bad nights. Valerian doesn’t help. Neither does a glass of milk or a hot bath.
Anxiety is not onset because I eat a pizza slice once a month. Nor is it caused by too much caffeine or hot chips. It’s also not just a matter of ‘relaxing’.
I’m starting to get really, really tired of saying this to people.
So the next time you think of suggesting if I’ve tried __NOT__ being anxious, or __NOT__being an insomniac…. the next time you feel like suggesting someone with pneumonia take a vitamin C pill…. or someone dying of cancer try your aloe vera concoction…