In an earlier post I talked a bit about people just not getting it. There are different levels of misunderstandings. From very simple “I don’t understand” to people creating their own version of what lupus is to me in their heads vs. what is actually true. What I have failed to address is the people who I talk to who might “get it” but simply scurry on from the topic. Not because I’m talking about it with them all the time. Most days I am able to keep fairly quiet about things. For example, I might tell one of my trusted friends I need to sit down and talk to them about what’s going on. I might get a sentence out and I get a response of “That’s nice. Lets go watch T.V. Yeah my fingernail is hurting too.” One of two things is going on with this reply:
They don’t get it and don’t care. Time to let the friend go. I don’t have time or energy for friends who won’t give the support back I give them. Sorry. Really is the truth.
They don’t get it, are afraid, don’t know how to deal with it and their defense is to brush it off. Almost as if they are in a state of mild shock. Cope for them is to not confront the problem and shove it under the doormat. They would much rather live with the illusion of me being healthy even though the reality is I’m not. A real heart to heart can be necessary to drive the point across.
A few things I have to remember in talking to a dismissing friend or any friend in general. They don’t deal with a life altering illness every single day. No matter what they really will not be able to understand things past a certain level. Some people have never been around a sick person and do not feel comfortable around me or don’t know how to act. Finally, it’s scary to hear something isn’t right and can’t really be made right.
Nothing is really comparable from one illness to another. The pain I feel in my joints does not translate to the pain felt after having open-heart surgery and vice versa. Both hurt but the hurt is different. In trying to explain to the dismissing type, don’t compare pain for pain. Everyone feels pain differently and everyone deals with it differently. Closest I ever come to comparing lupus to something else is when I will say “I feel like I have the flu every single day.” But it’s not really comparing lupus to the flu.
When talking with a dismissive friend make sure there are no distractions. It is really hard to tune a person out if you make eye contact and speak clearly. Sometimes a wake up call is all that is needed to alert a friend of what is happening.
Good luck with the dismissers in life. They can run and hide but eventually reality will catch them.