An open letter to peers, authority figures, and other assorted ableists

I guess I just don’t understand why you would rather tell someone to lose weight/ change their diet/ “lighten up”/ blame them for all their issues than feel compassion and listen.

My mom and aunt have fibromyalgia, my other aunt has MS, and maybe that gives me an advantage with the whole empathy thing, but I just feel appalled at how you respond to illness.

Like do you honestly believe that a vegan diet is going to cure someone from pain so debilitating they need a wheelchair to navigate their own home?

Do you think if someone doesn’t have the energy to prepare food for themselves they’re going to able to exercise?

Does it really make sense that every case of life-altering fatigue can be cured through vitamin-D? That every case of fatigue is merely depression and can be cured through therapy?

Do you really believe that, as someone who has never suffered from anything similar, you’re qualified to give advice on “healthy living" to a person suffering from a chronic illness? Why do you assume they haven’t already tried the things you’re suggesting?

Why does every symptom have to be an excuse and never a reason? When you break your leg, would you take kindly to someone telling you to suck it up and walk on it? Why does a person need to get off the couch and lose some weight when she can’t make it from her bed to the bathroom without using the wall for support? What happens when she’s already thin?

You’d never run a marathon with pneumonia, but a man with CFS needs to, because expending all that additional energy will make his problems go away?

You hear someone say that their life is awful. You hear them say that they’re in pain. You hear them talk about the medications, the doctor’s appointments, the flare-ups, the feeling of never being able to escape. You hear these things and you say “laziness”, but it never occurs to you that your own illnesses- a cold, the flu- make everyday tasks difficult- difficult enough that, quite often, you will complain about being sick and sometimes even skip out on obligations so you can rest up.

You hate being sick.

So why do you believe that a person would choose to miss school events for their child, choose to leave a job they love, choose to sleep for a minimum sixteen hours a day? Choose to gain weight on 600 calories a day, choose to lose weight from being unable to stay awake long enough to eat? Choose to stay indoors in a darkened room due to migraines? Choose to lose friends, alienate family members for reasons entirely beyond their control?

What does a person gain from living like this?

Nothing. Not even sympathy.

So why don’t you start to listen?