Pain is personal to the individual in question, it is the demon they fight with every day.
STOP TELLING OTHERS YOUR DEMON IS WORSE OR THAT THEIRS IS LESS SIGNIFICANT.
I could just end this post here really, that’s why I have put that at the top so you understand the point of this article. If you don’t want to read on that’s fine but at least take on board the message above.
Arthritis ‘support’ groups
I have spoken before about the loneliness that can accompany living with arthritis, I don’t mean everyone leaves you and you don’t have people around you. I just mean if you don’t have people around you that understand, then it can feel lonely.
That is why I joined social media support groups so I could be amongst people who appreciated what it is like to have flare-ups and days of constant pain.
On the whole, I enjoy being a part of the communities but there is a section of the crowd who I find dismissive, patronising and unkind.
And I know, wherever there are masses of people you will always get a minority that spoils it for others, I appreciate that but it doesn’t stop me being annoyed by it and absolutely will not stop me addressing it.
I believe it needs to be mentioned as I have noticed that it is becoming more prevalent over the past few years and seems to be accepted as the norm.
Osteoarthritis (Rheumatoid Arthritis’ poor relation)
I will use myself in the example here.
I have severe osteoarthritis in my ankle due to an accident, I have good days and bad. I am grateful that things I do and the mindset I have means I have a larger proportion of good days to bad.
On days when the pain is intense and actually there have been a few of them recently, I could put a message in one of the support groups saying how crap I’m feeling and two types of people will respond
Type A (which is thankfully the majority) will say something along the lines of;
- So sorry to hear that I pray that you will feel better soon, sending love and hugs.
- I understand what you are going through, when I was having a flare I tried “whatever they tried” and it seemed to help me. Give it a try it may help you.
- Try to stay positive, rest up and it will pass in time.
Type B (which is thankfully the minority) will say something along the lines of;
- Are you joking? You have one joint that’s hurting a bit, my entire body is attacking itself.
- You don’t know what real pain is.
- Yeah, it sounds bad but you can be grateful it’s not as severe as mine.
They are all responses I have seen online in support groups, look at them and see which type you are.
If you are Type A continue to spread love and support to others you have no idea what a monumental effect a few kind words can have on one stranger from another.
Now if by chance you are Type B, stop.
Whilst I understand the need for people to be able to vent and release in support groups, that venting and releasing should not be directed at fellow sufferers.
As said above, people’s pain is individual to them as they are the only one that can physically feel it. You may think your pain is worse or more significant right?
Well, I have news for you, there will always be someone worse off than you so turning it into a competition of who hurts the most is a completely pointless and unproductive exercise.
The only thing you accomplish by doing that is you make someone who is in pain, feel less significant than they may already have felt.
It can cause them to become reluctant to speak out in the future and feel more alone than before they wrote their cry for help.
For those of you who say these things to gain some sense of superiority maybe you should look through a list of incurable diseases and remind yourself of all the different demons, people all over the world are fighting.
I’ll even provide you with a link to Wikipedias list of incurable diseases here.
TRULY SUPPORT EACH OTHER
The reason I made The Arthritis Fight is so people fighting any chronic pain can access support, knowledge and love from one another.
Yes, we all are going to have moments of despair and exhaustion but just because we are going through that it doesn’t give us the right to ridicule others or make them feel their pain is less important.
For those reading, I encourage you to hit the share buttons and share this to your social media account.
The support groups don’t seem to be policing the kind of behaviour I’ve illustrated but we can do something about it, we can let them know it’s wrong.
If you hit that share button then feel proud in standing up and helping to remind people that the way forward is love.
Many of you probably won’t bother to share it but if you happen to need support one day and in your time of need you are subjected to dismissive, ridiculing answers then remember this is exactly why I wrote this.
To protect people from feeling alone and help bring people together.
WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER