Invisible Disability: The List of Things People Who Do Not Understand Invisible Disability Say
People have said some pretty hurtful things to me regarding my health although I’m sure they (most of them, at least!) didn’t mean to be hurtful in the least. Nevertheless, it is important for me to talk these things and point out to you why they are hurtful so you can try to avoid saying these things to others in the future. I know of people who’ve had people say a lot worse to them, but here are some examples of what I’ve been told personally:
“You don’t look sick.”
“You look great! You must be feeling better.” -On a day I could barely string two words together
“Are you sure you just don’t have too much stress?” -A form of the classic “it’s all in your head” routine I heard a lot both from layfolk and doctors
“It must be great to stay home from school. I wish I could!”
“You get extra time on tests?? You are so lucky!”
“I wish I could get out of gym class too.”
“You drove your car? Why didn’t you walk?”
“You might feel better if you exercised more.” -This last one really goads me.
Can you see why these statements are so misguided? They insinuate that I do not have any health condition whatsoever; they assume that I am at the same level of capability and health as the person speaking them. These statements are all coming from people who knew that I was sick. Clearly, they did not either understand or believe that I was sick. You can imagine how very lonely I felt. How can you force people to understand that you’re struggling so hard to get by and that their words demean both you and your daily, endless fight? If people understood how much physical effort it took me to simply speak with them, would they still make make such careless and hurtful comments?