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Am I Too Sensitive?

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It seems to me in the last couple weeks there have been multiple times when gluten free  has been made a joke of by friiends and/or co-workers. It really makes me angry when this happens. That people seem to think it is somethng that it is okay to make jokes about it. it doesn't seem like people would make fun of other illnesses. But it is okay to make fun of things related to my celiac. This isn't helped by the fact that people on my team at work also think it is funny to make fun of my name given that it starts with a different letter than anyone elses. so it is more than just one thing. People seem  to think I'm too sensitive when i get upset when they make jokes about it. Am I too sensitive about people making jokes about Celiac? Why is it considered okay to make jokes about this when it isn't okay to make jokes about other diseases? I was bullied for years growing up so I know that impacts how I react to this, but it doesn't seem like it is taken seriously. I know that people use gluten free as a fad diet, but It doesn't seem likek that should make it okay to make jokes about it. Especially when they are making the jokes about my eating in particular.

 

Please be gentle with any replies. I'm feeling sad and lonely.

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You are not too sensitive. I can totally relate! I usually try to laugh it off. Seriously, if it is happening in your workplace, you should go to HR. Harassment is not just sexual. A little more training might be needed at your company.

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I also agree with Cyclinglady, you are not being too sensitive, but they are being insensitive. It is wrong of them to mock you in this way. I'm afraid that if it was me, I would take the 'bull by the horns' so to speak, and tell them outright. I have always liked to get things out in the open instead of bottling it up. Some bullies stop if they think you are not prepared to tolerate the way you are being treated. Only you know what the best course of action would work. If you don't want to confront them, HR or senior management should be informed.

People here are lovely and understand what it's like, so you can vent. We are all in the same boat as you, so don't suffer alone.

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I was going to say - Sometimes it is funny.  And good- natured kidding is OK.

 

But - this is work, so that can be different than a close friend or family member kidding that they can eat the cholesterol, sugar sodium bomb (aka donut) and poor you will have a healthy heart & skinny thighs.  Also, "multiple times" making fun of any medical condition is childish behavior for adults.  And making it when you are present and they know it applies to you is extremely rude, stoopid, stupid, insensitive, mean, etc.

 

And they make fun of your name? (you have to admit, "googles" is a little bit funny   :D ). Do you work with 6th graders?  I don't know if you have ever said anything like "That is not nice.  I don't make fun of other's medical conditions."  Or " You are fat but I don't make fun of that".  Or "It seems Ok for you to make fun of my medical condition - so.... can I make fun of your weight, acne, diabetes, etc?"

 

Seriously, my hub is in HR.  He has said that, in cases like this, you need to tell the person that the comments are unwanted in some way.  Document it and, if it continues, talk to your boss or your boss's boss or HR.  If you have been tolerating these jokes, they may think you are OK with them or not realize how much they bother you.  If they know they are bothering you, you need to still speak up & document that you have made your point very clear.

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If you're feeling sad and lonely, you're NOT being too sensitive. Being the smart ass I am, I'd want to say something like, "You know... your comments are so insensitive, I kind of want to wish celiac disease on you so you can experience what it's like... but I'd never wish this on anybody... so go suck an egg."

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I don't think you are being too sensitive. I'm sorry that they either don't say anything at or or that they don't try to learn a little bit more about what it is like for you so that they can either show some compassion or just plain understand. I agree with others...time to sit down with HR and let them know about it.

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I was going to say something very similar to Karen's reply, so I will just say "what she said"and add this:

 

I have always hated the expression "Oh you're just too sensitive" because it implies that the person being singled out is

incapable of taking a joke (if in fact, it is funny)--which in this case, it's not.

 

It's never okay to make fun of someone's illness, name, gender, skin color, religion, nationality.... or anything else.

 

I confess, I am the type of person who would say something wise-ass in response because I do not take kindly to being

picked on nor do I ever stand by and watch it happening to someone else. I hate bullies. 

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You are not too sensitive and most definitely not alone here....I can't imagine anyone with Celiac Disease that hasn't had to deal with some level of scepticism from family, friends or co-workers.  Others have said everything I would have so I'll just add a little story.

 

A few years back I was working as an employee in an office situation after many years of being self employed.  At this point I had been gluten-free for about three years.  Anyhow...other employees could use my desk/computer while I wasn't there which led to a food related reaction. I explained how dangerous gluten and some other foods can be to me...I like asking folks to imagine they were asked to risk eating "just a little" broken glass every time they stepped into the break room or out to a business luncheon.  

 

When opportunity presented itself I would talk to my fellow office workers - tried to keep my explanations simple, matter of fact without apology - and a very interesting thing happened....folks started coming to ask me more.  One young lady from IT came to work on my computer....saw my sign that said "Please keep your hands off my chair, keyboard, stapler and pens -  I have food allergies and celiac disease - if you don't understand why I need you to be cautious, please ask me : )"  Turned out that this young lady has a life threatening peanut allergy and was afraid to say anything to her direct co-workers and her supervisor had given her a warning for going to the bathroom too frequently (she was washing her hands after every time she had to work on the various computers throughout the facility).  I told her that she needed to make those around her aware - especially her supervisor.  She did and came back to tell me how well it went - the other two guys in the IT department were great about it....guess one of them had liked munching on peanuts at the shared computers in their lab and felt horrible that he hadn't known and the other told her to post a sign like mine...cuz he had seen folks steer clear of my space when I was out of the office and he had started washing his hands before visiting my computer :)

 

Additionally, two people got tested for celiac (that I know of) - one tested positive, but both went gluten-free together and had symptoms resolve that they never considered were gluten related before I worked there.

 

Not everyone will stop the rude comments (some people are simply rude - that will never change) but if you give folks valid information and ask that they consider this issue from your perspective I'd bet you will find more support than you ever imagined -- minimally the comments will be reduced.

 

Hang in there...find the words you feel comfortable with and use them :)

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Maybe you could defuse the situation with a bit of humor, but pointedly enough that they would take it seriously. Something like, "Come on guys, it's getting old. I'll make you a deal - I won't make fun of your (name the illness, weight problem, family problem, whatever), and YOU stop making fun of my illness. Because when you make fun of my medically necessary diet, that's what it amounts to.)"

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No, you are not being too sensitive. There are a lot of childish boneheads in the world... if only there was a cure for that, oh well. There will always be insensitive, immature people in any workplace, but it's not ok to be teased or to be made to feel uncomfortable where you work.

 

I would say, definitely make your co-workers aware that it is a serious illness with serious consequences. It's true, gluten free has become a sort of dieting fad and most people don't get that it is a serious problem for people like us. Maybe compare it to a disease people already recognize as serious like diabetes, for example. Sometimes otherwise nice people can be insensitive when they don't have all the information.

 

I would do your best to handle it in a light way, with humor, and if possible without going to your boss, because that would make it into a bigger deal. Try to avoid the people picking on you and not let on that it's bothering you, or it will only fuel the fire. Bartfull's suggestion is a good tactic to try. If they still continue and it's affecting your work, then I would get your supervisor involved. Just realize that if if you don't get the support from your supervisor that you ought to, it could make it worse. If it's a quality workplace where the management is serious about how employees are treated, and they will back you up, then it's worth the risk. Remember too that management's first concern is usually job performance, so if you complain, say it's affecting your ability to do your job rather than that it's making you upset.

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Thank you everyone for your support. It helps to know that other people don't think I'm over sensitive. That has always been used to minimize how I'm feeling. It makes it hard to know if I'm over reacting. I hate having at share computers at work. Because I drive so much for work, I don't actually have my own computer at work, instead  it is a number of shared computers. Before I realized I was getting glutened when eating at the computers, it was really annoying.   I hate this all. I will have to figure this out. I have told them before about the teasing about my name, but every time they introduce a bunch of us to anyone new, they bring it up again. And then the celiac stuff whenever food comes up. Which sucks now because we are having a meeting once a week at dinner time.

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I'm a bit of a smart-ass but the first things that come to mind would be to say something like, "Well... I may have Celiac but all I have to do is not eat gluten.  You're ugly.  Nothing you can eat to fix that." - or - "Yep... it's all fun and games until I end up in the hospital... how will you feel for being such an ass then?" - or - "So if I had cancer or diabetes or a brain tumor would you find it so f***'in funny?" - or - next time you're about to do something... go to lunch, grab something off the copier, whatever... look at the worst offender and say, "What?? You gonna make fun of that too?"

 

No... you're not being overly sensitive.  People suck.  Some people just don't know how to react to someone who is different then they are.  Whether they look different, talk different, eat different, believe in a different religion, etc. etc.  It doesn't matter what it is... you'll always find people who will make fun of it.  People make fun of me because I go to bed early and actually get close to 8 hours of sleep every night.  These are the same people who fall asleep during meetings with Executive Management.  Idiots.

 

Unfortunately, you can do little to control others' behavior - but you can control your reaction to it.  Sometimes a well-worded, well-timed zinger is all that's necessary to make a person realize they're being a complete ass.  Some people will never realize that they're being a complete ass. 

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