Why is it so hard to care about chronic illness?

One of my more popular posts is “Why no one cares about chronic illness.” I wrote that post when I was angry and upset and needed a place to vent, which is pretty obvious once you read the post. These days I am no longer angry at the people who don’t understand me, instead I am sad and hurt. I am sad that there are so many horrible things happening in this world and I am sad that so many people are suffering. I am sad that we are so used to hearing about other human being’s anguish that we hardly pause to think about it.

This past week a huge typhoon in the Philippians killed a lot of people and effected the lives of who knows how many others. When I heard the news I was sad and then I went on with my day because sometimes it is just too hard to care. I couldn’t let the typhoon ruin my day because every day somewhere in the world people are hurting and I can’t think about that all the time. If all my thoughts and feelings dwelled on what a horrible place the world is or if I always dwelled on the hurt and the pain that people have to endure I could not live my life. I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning because I would be too depressed and too weighed down. I am reminded of a country song “How much does the world weigh?”

How much does the world weigh?
Somebody’s probably worked it out
You could look up what the experts say
But all you gotta do is look around
You’d be surprised who knows

Ask that woman trying to make the rent
Pay the bills and feed the kids
Six months ago their daddy walked away
Ask that man whose family stayed around
‘Cause he finally put that bottle down
Now he fights that battle everyday

Ask that couple in the waiting room
The doctors say it’s still too soon
It’s their little girl and all they can do is pray
Ask that little boy whose gotta choose
Mom or dad, either way he’ll lose
They’re breaking up and he thinks he’s to blame
Hey, how much does the world weigh?

Ask that Man hanging on the cross
His last breath will save the lost
The answer’s in the tears on His face
Hey, how much does the world weigh?
How much does the world weigh?
How much does the world weigh?

So how much does the world weigh? Ask a mom with chronic illness who knows she will never be able to physically provide for her kids or herself. Ask a person with chronic illness who knows that their quality of life is completely out of their own hands and rests in the hands of a doctor. The minute that doctor changes their mind or no longer becomes available that sick person no longer has access to the medications that keep them functioning. Ask a sick person who knows they are one job loss away from total ruin, and not just financial. With job loss comes the loss of insurance and access to healthcare. Ask the sick person who has been told over and over again that they are crazy and that there is nothing wrong with them. Ask a sick person that has been shunted to the side again and again and told they are worthless. How much does the world weigh? 

The world weighs a lot. It weighs on every person differently, but they feel the weight. Most people are just doing their best to deal with their own problems. And so, I can say now that I understand. I understand why no one cares about chronic illness until it affects them personally. It’s too hard to care, it’s just too hard to care about everything. Especially when you yourself are just focusing on putting one foot in front of the other one day at a time. When there are so many needs of our own that haven’t been met, how can we meet the needs of others?  So I get it. I know why people don’t care about chronic illness. All I ask is that people be considerate when they can. Look outside your own world and try to understand that chronic illness is a real thing and it comes with real limitations. Stop making me feel guilty that I can’t do everything. Stop judging me because I don’t work. Stop thinking I’m a slacker because I don’t meet your expectations. Stop being “disappointed” in me. Stop thinking I’m selfish for putting myself and my health first, and just try, try to understand me and I promise I will try to understand you. 

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One thought on “Why is it so hard to care about chronic illness?

  1. This is a great post. The concept of the "weight of the world" is such a perfect analogy to how we feel sometimes. I'd never really thought of it like that till I read your post. Sometimes I think that a large part of what brings Fibro on is our need to carry the weight of the world ourselves rather than allow the weight to be spread. We think we can do it all and we really can't. We just have to admit it and stop worrying so dang much.

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