“You should just eat more. Why would you order a salad if you’re trying to gain weight?”
Um, I can order my own food, thank you very much.
“You need to go vegan! Trust me, it works.”
Trust you? But it’s my body.
“Go the natural route. Stop taking all of those chemical infested medicines! You need to try supplements and an inflammation free diet. I know it will help you!”
Do you, though? I’d like to agree with my doctor on this one, sorry.
“Maybe you’re imagining it.”
Yep, you got it! I only take all of these shots and pills to help my imaginary disease feel better. All I need to do is stop thinking!
If you can’t tell by now, this post is about advice. Particularly advice that you did not ask for, and do not want. Unsolicited advice, if you want to get technical. Upon being diagnosed with a chronic illness, or any illness for that matter, the people around you tend to throw suggestions in your face without thinking twice. While it is great to seek support from friends and family, when cousin Sally who hasn’t seen you in ten years starts blabbering about how you’re on the wrong medicine isn’t exactly a supportive gesture. Her words may come from a want to help, but if you have chronic illness, you know that nothing feels worse than being told you’re “doing it all wrong” by someone who has no idea what you’re going through.
Usually, when given a piece of this uncalled for commentary, you are faced with an immediate challenge. To respond. Most importantly, to respond in a way that doesn’t leave the advice-giver scarred for life due to either the 20-minute description of your medical history of the past five years or the screaming rage-monster you became.
So, what are you supposed to do?
You have some options. Until this point, I gave myself the choice to react to such statements in one of three ways. I either:
- Go on a rant about how whatever miracle cure was not a cure because THERE IS NO KNOWN CURE FOR CROHN’S DISEASE (YET). Sorry cousin Sally, but in my case, this medicine is keeping me alive as a functioning happy human. Personally, I don’t care how many chemicals are in my “concoction” of pills and shots because right now, they work! And I’m not messing with that. (I always want to do this, but never have due to fear of the look of horror on their face when I finally shut up) And, this will leave the person feeling angry, upset, and like they just got rudely yelled at a by a total geek (probably because they did).
- (Attempted a few times with sad results) – Say “tried that, blah blah” (if it’s true). While this is honest and shows that you actually listened to what they said, the person usually gets a look of (in your best Wicked Witch of the West sneer) “Oh, look at this little overachiever. They already tried that! Well now I feel stupid. Why do they have to be so annoying, that little overachiever them!” It kinda stings when you try to help out, and then you get a slap in the face saying “haha, they already tried that! You have nothing to say now!”
- I ALWAYS use this, much to my dismay. I wish I didn’t and told the truth, but saying the truth to a stranger isn’t always a good option. – Say “wow! That’s so interesting! I’ll have to try it. Thanks so much for your suggestion. I’m sure it will help a ton!” Yeah, right. Like I was actually going to move to Hawaii and become a rural coconut farmer who cured his disease by living on a diet of lemongrass and chia seeds. (Thankfully, I haven’t had to deal with this piece of advice. But I feel it coming.)
But lucky you! There is now a NEW way to deal with unwanted advice that is both honest and polite. Behold, the………thanks, but no thanks (dramatic ahhhh complete with hand motions).
The solution to all your stranger-suggests-weird-unwanted-thing problems begins with thanks. And ends with no thanks. That’s all there is to it. Let’s have an example:
So, cousin Sally (we’ve been seeing a lot of her considering she went MIA for ten years) says: “Oh, daaarling, I feel so baaad for you, poooor thinnnng! You should try to go vegan instead of taking all those naaaasty piiiills. I knooow it will heeelp you, daaarling.
The new-and-improved you: Sally, I really appreciate your support. However, right now this medicine is really working for me and my doctor and I both agree that becoming a vegan would not help my disease. Thanks again for your sweet thoughts, though.
If you don’t feel comfortable sharing all of that, than just say “thanks for the thought, but I’m going to work it out with my doctor.”
And, if you think cousin Sally has a good point and would like to join the vegan community (which is very much ok), then what the heck are you doing reading all of this? (It is very kind of you, though, so don’t stop.)
You don’t need to embarrass yourself, or talk for seven hours, or go into detail about things you don’t want to share. Just be honest, and be kind. All you have to say is a wordy equivalent of……
Thanks, but no thanks.
- I do not mean to offend or accuse anyone with this post. The “intro” is just to give an idea of the things myself and many other people have been told, and the polite way to accept such comments. I put a sarcastic spin on them for humorous purposes only. However, individuals who say these types of things are not mean people. I am not aiming to poke fun at or degrade them for saying such things, as I know they are trying to help.
- Some people have found great relief using some of the methods I mentioned as “unwanted advice.” In no way do I intend to say that these forms of treatment are “invalid” or “wrong.” I am writing based on personal experience and am not a doctor. Whatever works for you is great for you. Everyone is different, and this must be respected. Some “stupid advice” to me may be the answer you are looking for. Once again, that was not the intention of this post. I aim to educate others on how to deal with issues in a kind way.
- In this post, I am only talking about advice you DO NOT WANT that is (usually) from someone you don’t know well. Friends and family can give you great suggestions, and this post is not trying to spread the message of “do not trust anyone about your disease. They are all dumb and don’t know anything.” The circumstances I am talking about are very different than asking a good friend or family member for support- that is a wonderful thing.