From Experience

Image: Sarah LeClair

Image: Sarah LeClair

I hate the fall. And whenever anyone asks why, I’m forced to make up reasons about disliking the color scheme or dreading the cold. But that’s all a lie. I hate fall because it means that I can’t breathe. I’ve been chronically ill for the last few years with countless illnesses that have left my immune system weak, and my body even weaker. My cardiovascular system struggles through the humid fall, winter, and spring. But it’s ok. It really is. This whole situation is unfortunate, but it’s my reality and I’m I’ve learned to live and thrive under these circumstances.

But what I’m not ok with, is the fact that every time I tell someone I hate fall, I have to justify why. And even when I’m simply explaining my health issues, rather than masking them with controversial opinions, I still have to justify everything I say. People are rarely content to hear that I’m sick; everyone wants to understand every detail of my health, and then make wild accusations.

Don’t get me wrong, I recognize that all of this inquiry is done with the best interests. People care about my health. But you have to understand it gets pretty tiring to constantly justify my illness and why, no, I can’t just “walk faster” to class to be on time, thank you very much. All this makes me feel like I’m going insane. The doubt from others only compounds my own worry that my illness isn’t valid-that my problems are nonexistent in comparison to others’ struggles

But over the years, I have also found a beautiful cure to these doubts, by telling them to screw off! Trust me, it works wonders. No one can live their life questioning their own validity. So just because my conditions aren’t as bad as so many other people in the chronic illness community, doesn’t mean my conditions don’t deserve respect and attention. And just because you don’t understand or can’t see my illness, that doesn’t mean it’s not there. These statements probably seem painfully obvious, but they’re things that I have to tell myself everyday.

This information isn’t intended to stop you from asking questions about people’s health. I just want you to believe people. Believe others when they tell you about their lives and don’t make people justify their illnesses. Stand up for yourself and others. Demand equal treatment for all health conditions and all abilities.

And all in all, please just be a nice person to yourself and others.

Sarah LeClair Comment