Chronic illness is often viewed as a personal failure. Somebody who can not function in society (no matter the reason) is a failure. Anyone who can’t work and therefore must rely on someone else or the government is a failure. The arguments usually go like this:
You just aren’t working hard enough.
It’s not that hard to get out of bed and sit in a desk chair all day.
You’re mooching off other people by not working, I wish I could do that without feeling guilty.
It must be nice to sit at home and watch TV all day.
You can’t be that sick, I saw you at the (fill in the blank here) last week and you looked fine.
Sound familiar to anyone?
Often there is a sense that someone with chronic illness has done something wrong. “It doesn’t happen to regular people so it probably happened to you to because of something you did or didn’t do. If you were eating more fruits and vegetables and exercising more then this wouldn’t have happened to you. So it’s your fault that this happened. “
I hardly know where to begin with this line of thinking. Possibly a few people who have chronic illness got it because they didn’t take care of themselves, but that is the very few. Most patients with chronic illness got it because it just happened . There was no personal failure or lack of following rules along the way, it just happened. It’s not their fault and it isn’t contagious so they don’t need to be treated like a leper. I think if there was more understanding and less judging many chronic patients would have it a lot easier. But the second it’s revealed that you have an illness that prevents you from working everyone scatters in different directions trying to avoid the leper, which is why so many people try to hide their illness. It’s depressing to be with people who treat you like that, and it certainly doesn’t help with healing.