My Chronic Illness is Worse Than Yours

A lot of my family members still don’t know that I have Hashimoto’s disease. It’s never really come up and I don’t know how to bring it up spontaneously. Instead, I just don’t talk about it.

One of my cousins also has a chronic illness – fibromyalgia. While our diseases are different, I figured that she would understand what it’s like to not always be in control of what happens to your body. For that reason, I thought that opening up to her would easy. I was hoping that after I came clean, we could build a support system for each other.

I was wrong.

I actually wish that I hadn’t told her at all and now I will be sure to never talk about it around her again.

The first time I mentioned it, was because the endocrinologist’s office is near her house and stopped by on my way there. It was a brief conversation and I downplayed it a bit because I didn’t really want to go into detail at the time.

The second time, I was responding to something that her son asked about Hashimoto’s. I told him that basically my immune system attacks my thyroid gland and pointed to my neck to show him where it was. My cousin then responded by saying “Well, my fibromyalgia attacks my nerves.”

I felt that the comment was unnecessary. Her son and I both know about her condition already. We’ve talked about it openly before so I guess she just wanted to be a part of the conversation. I didn’t really think anything of it at the time. I let it go and didn’t bring it up again.

Then, the was the third time.

I can’t remember the exact conversation but I was still struggling with how I was going to start a conversation about Hashimoto’s with her. I thought that the best way would be to bring it up casually, ease into the conversation. So when she mentioned something about the fact that I had been really tired one day, I responded with, “It’s a symptom of the thyroid disease.”

I was not prepared for what she would say next.

Instead of asking more about it or even just letting it go she said, “Well, I probably have that too and you don’t have fibromyalgia on top of it”

I couldn’t believe it. The last thing I expected (or needed) was for the person that I opened up to to tell me that my symptoms didn’t matter and that my disease wasn’t “as bad” as theirs. I only wanted someone to talk to, but apparently I failed to realize that we were in competition for the “Worst Chronic Illness Award.”

After that day, I’ve stayed silent. I don’t talk about the symptoms. I don’t mention my upcoming endocrinology appointment. I keep it to myself and pretend my illness doesn’t exist.


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About Bookmark Chronicles

Hi! I'm Rae. 23. Avid Reader, Book Blogger. Intersectional Feminist. Gryffindor.
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27 Responses to My Chronic Illness is Worse Than Yours

  1. fallinlovewiththesoundofwords says:

    Rae I am so sorry you went through that. Especially with family, who we should always feel safe with.

    I also have an autoimmune disease and have struggled with saying anything to everyone. Thankfully I have so far only had supportive backdrops (but I don’t talk about my disease with a lot of people including family, I especially dont talk about my disease with people who also have the same condition as me) but it is my worst fear to go through what happened to you. I refuse to even tell anyone at work because of that fear. It can be pretty debilitating!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jackie! Sorry to hear that you have a disease too, I hope you’re coping okay and are able to get the necessary treatments if necessary.
      I’m really glad that you have some sort of support. The last thing that I want is for someone to have to deal with the same thing that I have. Your fear is well placed though, I clearly made the wrong choice and I would hate for that to happen to you too. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • fallinlovewiththesoundofwords says:

        I am very lucky in my journey with it so far, I know it can be so much worse so I try to stay on the bright side. I am at the stage right now where I can, most of the time, pretend it isn’t there, so coping has been easy for the most part.
        Yes, unfortunately it does appear that people with conditions have to be extra careful who they speak with. It is exhausting to even think about let alone actually encounter.
        If you ever need someone to listen I am here as well ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you!! I appreciate it and same to you. I’m here if you need me 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • fallinlovewiththesoundofwords says:

        Thank you! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  2. carlalouise89 says:

    Reblogged this on The Melodramatic Confessions of Carla Louise and commented:
    THIS!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sorry you’ve had this response, too. I’m sick and tired of people feeling the need to compare each others situations. We’re all entitled to feel the way we do. There’s no ranking.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ariel Lynn says:

    Reblogged this on Writing Radiation and commented:
    We don’t need to compete with one another for “who has the worst chronic illness.” We should be lifting one another up, not shooting one another down. 😦

    Liked by 3 people

  5. shesallsass says:

    I’m sorry this happened to you. Living with chronic illness can be lonely and we all want someone to turn to, especially family. Unfortunately people will either downplay your disease or otherwise try to delegitimize it… I think partially because they don’t know how react to it so try and construct an alternative reality in which you must be exaggerating.

    When I was diagnosed with Crohn’s and having the WORST symptoms, my best friend (who had a heart murmur) said “well they can fix your intestines; it’s not like it’s your heart.” I forgive her because we were young but BOY did that sting. I’m also unlucky and have epilepsy and rheumatoid arthritis, and trying to explain that you have multiple diseases without being called a liar and hypochondriac is pretty hard. I imagine you have the same difficulties because hashimoto’s is so relatively unknown.

    I think your cousin is probably struggling with the issues we all face as being chronically ill: being in pain and sick but not being able to make anyone understand or take it seriously. I think she took it out on you. I’m not excusing her behavior because she shouldn’t have tried to make your disease feel less significant, but perhaps that’s an explanation.

    Please don’t stay silent about your disease. We all need someone to turn to. Unfortunately, there are just people who don’t understand and will leave you feeling worse after opening up to them.

    Warm thoughts,

    EmK
    ShesallSass.wordpress.com

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! I’m sorry that your best friend said that to you and I hope that your conditions together aren’t too overwhelming. I think you’re right, that she’s struggling and doesn’t know how to handle it. Luckily another one of my cousins was much more supportive so I guess that kind of makes up for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think you could find someone to talk about it with… Just be careful with whom you choose. Someone must be there for you. Maybe opening up to your family members might work… But there I should warn you, family members often try to minimise the problem because they’re too afraid for us. I know that since I have health issues as well. Don’t shut yourself in, try finding someone to talk to, it’s gonna be much easier when you find it.

    Like

  7. kimskafe says:

    I love this I think it’s so important because it happens so often. I have asthma and I don’t talk about it too often because people are like well it’s not that bad just take your inhaler and run… not the way it works. So a lot of times I feel as though it’s so down played because people want to tell me I can do things I can’t physically do. I also have dealt with conversations like the ones you dealt with your cousin. See the thing is I probably would’ve shut it down because if we can constantly talk about her chronic illness why can’t we acknowledge yours. But I’m so sorry she made you feel that way I hope one day she opens up to listen!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: November Wrap Up! 2016 | bookmarkchronicles

  9. tlohuis says:

    I’m sorry that you had that experience. That was just down right rude of her. She was totally dismissing your illness and it sounds like she was wanting sympathy for hers because her’s is so much worse, according to her. I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t talk to her about it anymore, either. There are many other people you can talk to. Most people aren’t that rude. Your illness isn’t any less significant than hers. Just remember that. I don’t know much about it, but I am going to google it……I do know all about Fibromyalgia, though……………………I wish you the best. Take care. XX 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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