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Recently I did something really awful, something I’m quite ashamed of and that I really should know better. I judged someone on their social media and their chronic illness. I saw someone posting about going out to a social event and thought “Oh, I thought this week you were really ill?!”
Someone I see on social media has an invisible and chronic illness and shares their life to educate others about the impairment. They had been posting a lot about how difficult a time they are having and then I saw a photo of them heading out to a really busy social event. And I judged them.
I’m embarrassed about this and I’m not writing this post to make any single defence. But to talk about how we all can sometimes judge others even when we truly do know better.
Feeling judged? I should know better
I publicly share a lot of my life, the highs and the lows of life with a chronic illness. And I have been judged many times. People making comments about me going for dinner when I have said I’m struggling with fatigue. Asking how come I can manage to go to a festival when I have shared my pain levels. People just openly telling me I don’t look sick with a suspicious stare as if I’m making it up.
So I’m shocked and ashamed of myself that I had this thought. I wondered how they were going to manage going to an event when all their posts that week had been about extreme pain and inability to walk. How very dare I?
Because the reality is that you have no idea what someone is going through by just looking at them. And when you feel judged, it just makes life feel worse.
I have managed to work a full time job whilst living on painkillers with horrific pain, insomnia, depression and awaiting surgery.
I have been on a night out despite feeling like death because I was fed up of letting friends down so much and not wanting to cancel. I’ve shit myself on a night out, cleaned myself up, changed and then smiled for an instagram selfie.
On my wedding renewal day, I was bleeding from my jpouch so heavily that I had to wear a pad. Yet my photos wouldn’t give that away.
Festival and travel
I’ve been to festivals whilst being desperately unwell because I didn’t want to lose the ticket money and ruin other people’s plans.
I’ve travelled the world whilst recovering from major surgery, feeling terrified, fragile and had to carry a case filled with medication. On one trip I had to inject myself every single day into my stomach. But my holiday photos don’t tell that tale.
I have had people write comments on my social media criticising my for these things, saying I don’t look sick. People saying to my face or online that if it were really as bad as I say, then I wouldn’t be having a social life like this.
And it’s a crippling feeling of judgement, a weighty slump of worry. Not feeling believed, supported or understood. It’s devastating.
So I have no idea why this mean spirited thought popped into my head when I saw someone doing something fun despite their illness. I can only say that I didn’t comment to them or to anyone else and as soon as I thought it, I caught myself and gave my head a wobble.
Perhaps it was jealousy more than anything (not that it makes it ok). I’m 5 weeks post op and still in an awful lot of pain. I’m exhausted all the time and though I’m getting better, it’s still really tough. And maybe I just wished I could be doing what they were.
Be kind yo
I suppose the reason for this blog post is a reminder that sometimes we all can judge others unfairly. That we can think the worst and make unwarranted and negative assumptions. But those thoughts and assumptions are on us and we all need to remember that everyone is fighting their own battles and you have no idea what they are.
If you find yourself judging someone else on something that you have no idea about, then keep it to yourself! And then think about the damage those negative comments can make to another person.
We have all done it. But if we’re aware of how wrong it is, then hopefully we can make the world a little kinder.
We seem to live in a world where social media tells us we can never make a mistake. We can never slip up, say or think something out of character. The truth is we all fuck up from time to time, but if there is no room for self recognition and allowance to learn, educate yourself and make positive changes, then where are we left?
To err is to be human, and in my poor thoughts I have realised that we can all mess up. I’ve been judged in the way I judged someone else. And it made me realise that maybe we need to speak up a little more when we do something wrong. And maybe society and social media need to be more open to allowing people to make amends for their mistakes?
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