When building relationships and coexisting with fellow humans in life – there is conflict, disagreement, and a divide between how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you. In this week’s Health Activist Tweetchat let’s focus on the latter.
We often find ourselves having to speak out about what is true about ourselves, our health, and the communities we advocate for. This is because there is a lack of awareness, understanding, or compassion amongst the general public. Have you ever been told that “At least you don’t have [___ condition]” or that “You’re lucky you’ve got a good disease”? Have you ever been judged for seeking certain treatments or advocating for a certain cause? What about facing stigma for misperceived causes for your symptoms? Have you ever been blamed or felt another condition was blamed because of incorrect information or myths?
Health Activists from all different health communities have told us: people who don’t understand often judge. If the public thinks you’ve made “bad” choices and chooses to link those to your health – there can be some seriously painful judgement to deal with. No one would choose to live with a taxing chronic condition or life-threatening illness – and yet, because of myths, stereotypes, and lies – fellow patients are judged for their health. (Two examples are: people who have Type 2 Diabetes brought it on themselves (false) or that people living with lung cancer brought their disease upon themselves by smoking (false! Many people with lung cancer never smoked).) If you don’t fit into the perceived ideal (which is often fabricated and exaggerated) – you’re invisible or “wrong.”
Even worse than that? That there is an implication that patients somehow “deserve” what they deal with. That there is some fantastical, cruel karma that doles punishment and comeuppance for people’s past behaviors or beliefs. It’s simply not true. There are plenty of exceptions to each of these causation “rules” – and so many disease go without known causes or even what may increase risk factors. Just as there are no guaranteed “cures” – there is no catch-all explanation for why someone lives with a certain condition or symptoms. It’s always a complex combination of genetics and environment. Every person is different and every situation or experience is, too.
And yet – even though each one of us is unique, we all struggle, and we all deal with insecurity and personal pain — the way we, and fellow patients, are treated is not always with compassion or understanding. We’ve got work to do as Health Activists to keep unmasking the truth and correcting falsehoods.
Join today’s #HAchat to discuss all of these topics and more. If you’ve ever been judged for your appearance, your health, or some qualities about yourself — or know people that have — let’s discuss that today. Let’s delve into what is going on and how we can help.
We’ll be tweeting here: http://tweetchat.com/room/HAchat at 3pm ET and hope to see you there!