Dealing with Comments About My Chronic Health Condition
“At least you look good.”
I often hear this statement, or something close to it. I am confident the words are sincere and said with the best of intentions. Someone who tells me I look good, despite the fact that I have sarcoidosis, is hoping to make me feel better.
Yet, nothing about this statement makes me feel better. In fact, it often makes me feel worse. Here’s why:
- When I hear these words, I wonder whether the person is questioning whether I really have a health challenge. After all, if I don’t look sick, it’s difficult for people to believe I am. Why should I care what people think? I don’t know, but I still do.
- A statement such as “at least you look good” puts more emphasis on appearance rather than on wellness and health. It’s almost like saying, “What does it matter if you don’t feel well as long as you can fix yourself up nicely?” It seems like a very strange message to send.
- Such a statement implies that if I didn’t look good and didn’t feel well, then I would really have a dilemma on my hands. Since I am only experiencing half of the equation, it’s not really so bad.
I honestly do believe that people who make these kinds of statements mean well. I’m also fairly confident they would not keep making these comments if they knew how offensive they are to me.
Here are some ways people could be more helpful:
- If you take note of my appearance, don’t mention it. Whether it’s a good day for me or a bad one, by not mentioning how I look, you keep appearance out of our conversation.
- Instead of making comments about my appearance, perhaps ask a question. “How are you doing today?” shows genuine interest in what I’m dealing with rather than making a statement about my looks.
- Asking me how you can help is welcomed. For instance, if you live close by, offering to run an errand when I can’t is much more helpful than making a comment about my appearance.
Some people might argue that they have simply run out of things to say because of my sarcoidosis. In that case, I encourage them to feel free to not say anything.
Maybe other individuals who manage chronic health challenges appreciate the statements about their looks. Perhaps the words have the desired effect on them. While I appreciate the intent behind the words, however, this type of statement just adds salt to an open wound for me.
Unfortunately, I have yet to come up with a response that won’t offend but will adequately explain. For now, I just keep saying, “Thank you.”
Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.