We all have problems. That’s it. Everyone has something difficult that they have to deal with. It might be a health problem, it might be a relationship problem, it might be taking care of someone else. We all have something.
If you have a severe chronic health condition, then the people in your life know at least a little bit about it. No one really knows or understands what you go through, but they all know you have something, and they know a bit about the symptoms. And because of that, some people get weird talking about their own health problems. Have you ever heard “they’re nothing compared to yours”? I bet you have.
A friend called today. We hadn’t spoken in a while and we had a lot of catching up to do. She didn’t know I had stopped working because of my health (yeah, it’s been a really long time) and she was sad to hear it. Then we were talking about her job, and how she left it because of health problems. She’d always been one of the healthiest people I knew, so I was shocked to hear about some of her troubling symptoms, all from the last several months. On the bright side, they are probably stress-related, so she should be fine with some rest and relaxation (I hope!) Still, I wanted to hear all about it because as her friend I was (and still am) concerned.
That’s why was frustrating that every time we started to talk about her health, her response was that she didn’t want to talk about it because my health is so much worse. I didn’t know how to make her understand. Yes, I get annoyed when people complain about stupid things, when they act like a paper cut is the worst pain possible. But I get upset from smaller things too. I’m miserable when I have a bad cold. I certainly feel the pain when I pull a muscle. Yes, I can put these things in perspective emotionally, but it doesn’t make them less bad. And I don’t begrudge anyone else their hardships. I feel bad talking about my health with others who have worse conditions than I have. My healthy friends feel bad talking to me about their temporary health issues. But we have to remember that we all have problems and we all have to deal with them. So I want my friend to tell me what’s going on with her. It might not be as severe or as long-lasting as my issues, it may not have as big of an impact on her life as mine do on my life, but it is difficult for her and that makes it important to her and to me.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, my illness doesn’t make your illness irrelevant, and vice versa. Let’s support each other, not hold each other back.