Empathy and chronic illness


This. Every time I reached out to friends for help and support, they started talking about themselves. Every. Time.

Two years ago when I really needed help. I started calling people on it. Asking WHY they did that. They’re presented with a friend in need, in crisis, begging for help.
And then talk about themselves.

Often, a complete change of subject, with nothing to do with what I was going through.
e.g. when I was suffering intense PTSD, my ‘friend’ changed the subject to when she was in college and there was a serial killer active in her city.

Um…yep, that’s exactly the same as my near death experience and torture at the hands of my medical team.

People always said they were trying to empathise. Let me know they’d been through something similar, so that I didn’t feel alone.

I have never done this in my life. Which is probably why people always brought their problems to me. I listen, I ask questions, I let them talk.

Empathy is an important skill. A lot of people in the RA community are very self-focussed and not at all empathetic to others’ pain. I believe that’s BECAUSE the world at large doesn’t understand what a serious, painful, life-altering disease it is. Therefore they don’t give empathy and support, they give ‘oh its just arthritis’ and diminish and dismiss our pain.

Raising awareness of what RA is, and what it can do to a body and to a life is the only solution I can see to that. But is a very hard task. Even the advocacy organisations I’ve worked with don’t want to show the worst of RA, they want to be “positive”.
I’m all for positive, but lets be honest as well.

And let’s empathise with eachother. Support eachother. When someone is in crisis, it doesn’t matter who’s pain is worse. Just listen and support <3




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