Illness isn’t a performance

The depressed must look sad. Those in pain must look like they’re in pain.

Those who are ill must look like they are ill.

You might want to trace this down to the idea that you have to “see it to believe it” because a person telling you something isn’t as reliable as you simply seeing it for yourself. Unfortunately, this also means that in order for you to believe what you see, it has to confirm your prior conceptions of what you already believe.

To see someone in pain and believe they’re in pain, I have to fall back on my previous ideas of what it means to be in pain. Grimacing. A long face. Crying. Shouting.

These are preconceptions and we must admit they can be wrong.

The ill aren’t obligated to explicitly show they are ill in order for them to be believed. Often times, illness is complex for the person it affects and the other people it involves. The ill can express joyfulness, sadness, wonder and still be ill.

Illness isn’t a performance art even though it often feels like it needs to be.

To the ill, don’t put yourself under pressure to act a certain way in order to prove your illness (either to yourself or others).

To the non-ill, consider believing the word of the ill rather than dismissing it based on prior beliefs about how the ill should behave.

Both these statements are easier said than done but a step in a better direction.


Twitter: @improvingslowly

Facebook: Improving Slowly

As always, thank you for reading.

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