"But You Don’t Look Sick!" Think Before You Speak

When you tell people you have lupus, they always seem to know someone who also has it. They always say that they are doing okay. I always wonder how one can tell how well someone is from just looking at them. Realistically, they can't really determine when someone doesn't appear to be unwell. If that person hasn't communicated that they are not doing well, the conclusion that they are well is just an assumption.

Lupus is different in everyone

No 2 lupus warriors are the same. One lupus warrior can't be compared to your brother, girlfriend, sister, baby daddy, or the 3rd cousin who is 5th removed — comparison in relation to your lupus just doesn't work. Most times, I am sure and understand that the person may mean well. I know they are simply trying to reassure the warrior that everything will be fine, but everyone's lupus is different.

Their lupus is not mine

No matter how many times you claim the person you knew with lupus does everything, it will not change the fact that I am unable to. Your friend may have been able to hang out and drink with you, and she was fine. But I can't do that. The person you know with lupus may work 40 hours a week. They may then go to a part-time job at night. I can't do that. It doesn't matter what the person you know with lupus does to me. Why? Because with my lupus, I can barely get through the day.

But you don’t look sick

"But you don't look sick," is often stated to lupus warriors. I am not sure what one expects "sick" to look like. Right now, sick looks just like me. Don't be offended if someone reaches out and touches your hand briefly when you state this, wringing it a little, just to let you know the anguish about having lupus. You see, although one doesn't look sick, they are, and you must understand that sick can be invisible, hidden, and manifested totally different in everyone.

What you don’t know

Yes, I know Susie Ann was able to do this and that. I understand Charles still cuts the grass every Saturday in the sun. Even Mary has written a book and is doing so well in your eyes. You don't know the struggle Susie Ann, Charles, and Mary have had to go through. You may not realize how different one lupus fight is from the person you are familiar with. Do not be alarmed when they look at you like a deer in headlights because of your comments. Since they can't do what you believe they should be able to do because of the person you know with lupus, it may make them a little annoyed.

It is all about empathy

Before saying that someone doesn't look sick, realize the majority of people begin the day with an infinite number of opportunities and the energy to pursue whatever they wish. They are generally unconcerned about the consequences of their conduct. A lupus warrior has to think through it all before planning and then be prepared for the unpredictability of having to cancel.

In conclusion, for those afflicted with invisible illnesses like lupus, the words of others can have a profound effect on emotions. If a person demonstrates empathy and asks, "How can I assist?" or "I'm not sure how horrible it feels, but I'm sure it must be really difficult," their remarks are typically enormously appreciated. They are seen as being kind and empathetic. The next time you encounter someone with lupus who appears to be healthy, the aim should be to pause before passing judgment or comparing their fight to another. You do not have to fully comprehend what another person is going through to be nice, kind, and empathetic.

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