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It's Not for Attention

Living publicly with chronic illness somehow gives the public the notion that they are entitled to know everything about you. People wouldn’t go up to a regular person and start asking them about their medical history, diet, age, medication, supplements, etc. That would be inappropriate and rude... yet somehow these questions are perfectly acceptable if a person walks with a cane, a service dog, a brace on, uses handicap parking, etc. Suddenly, the public believes it has the right to know everything about you.

Unfortunately, it’s not even just a morbid curiosity that drives most people, it’s some sick twisted desire to make you prove your illness or justify your pain. It’s like people have this dark desire to catch someone faking an illness or condition. They want to prove to themselves and the world that you aren’t as sick as you claim to be. Maybe, just maybe, this is because subconsciously they don’t want to believe that some people live in constant incurable pain and suffering. Maybe that’s too hard for them to accept. Or maybe they just suck as human beings. Either way, the reality is... that person is probably a lot sicker and in a lot more pain then they are even letting on. I usually am.

I’ve had people ask me the most inappropriate questions. When my sister goes out in public with me she gets frustrated on my behalf very quickly. She laments to me often, “Why do people have to ask you so many questions?” “Why does everyone need to know everything about you?” “Why can’t people just leave you alone?” See, my sister is not visibly sick. She’s not used to receiving so much attention in public. She is not used to the constant stares, eye rolls, snide comments, curious questions, etc. She reminds me how absurd it is that I can’t leave my house without enduring public scrutiny. My sister has her own health battles, but hers are even less visible than mine. She has a silent strength that most people don’t take the time to acknowledge. I admire her for that.

Stupid questions like, “Aren’t you too young to be sick,” “Have you tried essential oils,” “Are you allowed to bring pets into the store,” “Have you seen a doctor,” “Why do you have a cane,” etc. are highly annoying; but there is one assumption that hurts more than any other: “She just wants attention.” This one makes my blood boil.

How dare you roll your eyes and comment loudly that I’m faking. How dare you assume I use handicap because I’m lazy. How dare you assume my service dog is just a pet. Who in their right mind would do any of this for attention!? Would you volunteer to have tubes shoved up and down every orifice of your body just to receive a little attention? Would you volunteer for nasty tests and treatments for the sake of attention? Would you live a life where you see more doctors then friends for the sake of attention? How dare you assume I am faking! This is such a harmful belief. This discredits my pain, my suffering, and my strength. Even just saying I’m dramatic diminishes the actual strength I have in overcoming these trials. I am not a weak person with a low pain tolerance and a fragile constitution. I am a mother fucking bad ass who deals with more pain in one day then you could stomach in a year. The pain I often wake up with is a pain that would send you screaming to the ER. I live with this pain and I tough it out because I am strong, because I am determined... and because I have no choice.

You ask, if it’s not a method to “seek attention” then why do you talk about it? Why do you write about it? Talking about it makes me feel less alone. Acting brave makes me feel brave. Blogging about my experiences helps me critically analyze my circumstances and express my frustrations, fears, and triumphs. Sometimes, all I have is talk. I can’t cry all day. I can’t sleep my life away. I can’t rush to the ER every time my pain spikes above a 10 on the pain scale. So I write, I talk, and yes... sometimes I complain. It’s a coping mechanism and it’s healing. So think what you want, believe what you want, judge me all you want, but keep it to yourself. I have enough struggles to overcome without needing your inaccurate accusations. The braces, the doctor appointments, the IVs, the service dog, the cancelled plans, the grumpy attitude, the blog... it’s not for attention – it’s for survival.


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