I may be overreacting but…

fibro

Every time I see the picture above posted on social media, it stirs up something in me not unlike a pot of boiling rage. It’s quite a strong message but It doesn’t tell me anything about the daily struggle the poster is going through, nor does it tell me what they’re feeling. It doesn’t impart upon the reader any information except to say, “take pity on me” and even though I’m a great supporter of the ‘pity party for one scenario,’ (It’s a skill I’ve mastered well) I don’t need a picture to do the job for me.
I’m not saying that every picture has to detail someone’s daily struggle or must contain vital information about their condition, but I feel as though the words used could garner a negative reaction.

For me however, it’s an image that’s both blaming and condescending. In life I flit between wanting to be acknowledged and not accused of “faking it,” but I also want to be treated much the same as anyone else. Yet the line ‘I hurt at places you couldn’t imagine’ separates me from others, creating a ‘them and us’ status. it’s defeating and patronising, especially the part which reads, ‘beyond your comprehension.’ Okay, so it may be true that the pain that I and others feel is beyond most people’s comprehension, but that’s because most people haven’t experienced it. Everything can be beyond someone’s comprehension if they haven’t been through it themselves, but that particular line feels like the finger of blame being pointed at those who do not have a chronic illness.

And do I really need people to know how strong I am so that they can say “well done you for doing what so many other people with chronic illnesses do every day?” If the person who wrote that really was strong, would they need to advertise that fact?
In saying that, many people find solace in those words. It says what they think, which is that those who don’t have it, don’t get it and I understand that completely. But here’s the thing, many people who don’t know our story already view us as whiny, self-obsessed complainers with a fake illness that’s all in our heads, and posts like this do not help with that stereotyping. It could have so easily been written as

‘I hurt at places which cannot be imagined, at a level beyond comprehension. If this pain could be felt by anyone for just one day, then they’d realise how strong they really are’.

There is no divide in that statement, no finger pointing or self pity because both the person posting and the reader, are encompassed within those few words. Most of us want understanding and compassion, not a sense of ‘woe is me’, which is what this sadly portrays.

 

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6 thoughts on “I may be overreacting but…

  1. It’s a fine line isn’t it Lily? I remember when I had my cancer people would ask, “how do you do it? You must be so strong.” And I’d always tell them, “I do what everyone else does in the morning. I open my eyes, say thank you and decide whether or not I’m getting out of bed.” – Everyone makes that decision, sick or not. I was never a “woe is me” kind of person. And it wasn’t until my hair fell out that people ever thought of me as “sick” or had the compassion that came once I was bald, if that makes sense. It’s like they had to see it to believe it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is a fine line Karen and it is about just getting up and getting on with life, because what’s the alternative? It all just makes you appreciate those little things a lot more and to be thankful that we are still here. I’m definitely a ‘pity party for one’ kinda girl, but it never lasts long. Posts like that however, (from the comments I’ve read) cause people do dwell on the negative and not move on.
      And yeah, the whole ‘you have to look sick’ for people to believe that you really are ill, is a huge bug bear of mine, so I get it completely. Ooh, I can feel another rant coming on…;)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very valid point Lily. each of us has something in our lives that we could say others have no comprehension about, but does that actually help anyone? I very much like how you minimally reworded it and it applies to everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly Claudette. Statements like that aren’t helpful at all. Spawn was sitting next to me while I was scrolling through Facebook and saw this. His response was, “oh how self-pitying is that?” It kind of implies that we’re victims and because other people can’t understand it, they can’t empathise.
      And thank you. We can’t complain about being excluded when we exclude ourselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lily, you’ve expressed this beautifully and truly as one who knows. Although images like that may give solace to some with chronic illness, it’s also saying you cannot fathom my pain because it’s beyond your comprehension but see how strong I am to endure it. Very understanding someone would feel that way but on the other hand, it feels sadly self-serving. It seems to me as well that a truly strong individual would not need to advertise that fact. Pain that is “beyond your comprehension” is only so because someone has not experienced it, so true. Your last line is perfectly stated. “Most of us want understanding and compassion, not a sense of ‘woe is me,’ which is what this sadly portrays.” I totally agree. There is something very lonely and sad about that image.

    Liked by 1 person

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