Being sick for 20 years has taught me a lot and I think one of the main things having these illnesses has taught me is how ignorant and judgmental people really are. People who don’t know us, don’t live with us, have never spent more than a few minutes or a few hours a week with us, assume they know more about what we go through than what we do ourselves. Society and some of the medical community assume that CFS & Fibromyalgia are made up illnesses to cover for people who are nothing more than lazy, worthless drones whose only ambition in life is to see how much money they can collect from the state. Am I right? How many times have we heard this?
I feel like one of the fortunate survivors of CFS & Fibromyalgia because I have been able to get out and work 1 – 2 days a week, 4 hours a shift. But I will sit in the breakroom, look through the job postings, and see all of the job positions that I am qualified to do and would love to do, but I physically can’t. It is hard for someone like me to not be able to do that and most people don’t see that. They don’t realize how hard it is for me to not work a full-time job, using my talents and skills and ambitions.
I hope I write this without it coming off wrong but I have found that probably the most judgmental and ignorant group of people that I have encountered when dealing with these illnesses are elderly people. I love to talk to elderly people and I always try to show respect to them, hold doors open for them (especially if they are using wheelchairs/walkers, etc.), but they seem to be rather rude to younger people who are sick. I feel that they think that because they are elderly, they have earned the right to be sick, handicapped, or whatever. I didn’t ask to be sick. It’s not my fault I became sick so young. It happens. Being old doesn’t necessarily mean that you are in worse health. My husband is a perfect example: 22 years older than me with a bad heart, several heart attacks and triple bypass and he can still go circles around me.
People also assume that we fake being sick so that we can collect disability from employers or social security. I’m sure there are some out there who are faking it – there are always those do. But most of us with these illnesses have long track records of working very hard, long hours at jobs for years. If we are able to, we still try and work a few hours a week if possible. I personally made good money back when I was still working full-time. Those who receive social security disability or disabilty from their former employers know that the amount they receive monthly doesn’t come close to what we once made. Many have lost their homes, went into major debt, and have given up great lifestyles that they were once used to because of these illnesses. We don’t choose to live like this, we don’t want to live like this. It’s what we have had to resort to in order to survive.
The realization of me being on disability really hit hard here this past few weeks when we were having vehicle problems with my husband’s mini-van. We bought his mini-van brand new in 2001 (it was a 2002 model) when I was 9 months pregnant with our son. Whenever we needed a vehicle, we would just go and buy one and we could get a brand new one. Last week, after spending over $1,000 on repairs on this van, and the garage still not knowing what’s wrong with it, we had to decide whether to let them continue to work on it, trade it in on another vehicle, or just bring it home and run it until it blows. We had to bring it home because we couldn’t afford another car payment right now – not even for a used mini-van. We were looking at one that was 5 or 6 years old and we still couldn’t do it.
People assume that they feel the same type of “tired” that we feel. They have no clue what we go through and tired doesn’t even begin to describe the intense exhaustion and pain we suffer from. Everyone gets tired, but normal people can recover, still work, lead normal lives, and their bodies don’t completely shut down on them.
What assumptions are you sick of people making about you? Let me know in the comments!