Please Help! Chronic Illness and Meeting People, Part 2
Posted Jan 21 2009 4:26pm
I’m so torn. For me the answer is as follows:
It depends on my mood. And how a person makes me feel. And where I am. But mostly I don’t tell them unless I have to. In fact, since my diagnosis in 1998 (at age 14), I have lived in (minus my 10 semesters at college) the same small town. And, during my flare up last spring, I learned quite a few people whom I have known for the entirety of that time had no idea I have a chronic illness. I consider this amazing. They are either… very kind and gave me the benefit of the doubt on countless occasions, or very forgetful. Either way it meant a lot to me.
On the other hand, it means just as much to me to think of the hundreds of folks who know I struggle with health challenges. They haven’t made it their business to tell people. They haven’t made it their business to make a scene when they can tell I am not feeling well. Quite the opposite.
Anyway, back to the point. When I have to tell folks I just say it. Something stupid sounding, I’m sure. But I always say it matter-of-factly. “I have fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis.” I then typically downplay whatever symptom or situation has necessitated my discussing my invisible illnesses. And I am usually tempted to crack a joke. But I typically resist the immature urge. Because it’s not a joke. And I don’t treat it lightly (that doesn’t mean I act like it’s the end of the world, either).