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healthysquirrel

what to say in the face of insensitive comments

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Hello everyone, 

Hope you are having a nice day. I have seen so many blogs or links about how we should speak to someone with chronic illness, mental illness and grief. A LOT of nice "what NOT to say" websites, but my question to all of you is how do you react to friends who do say insensitive or hurtful things without creating even more drama?

I like to air things out right away, but I am looking for a phrase that slips off the tongue.

I tend to want to say "if my illness is an inconvenience to you, get a therapist"

Conflict and complicated relationships are not my thing as I try to heal.  I am looking for a diffuser phrase that does not start a fight.

The other night my friend laid in to me about how she felt about some of my behaviour. That was hard to hear and super bad timing (celiac, lyme, ammonia, separation etc at the moment) and I took it like a champ and actively listened.
To her credit, I am a flawed human being and I'm on a new treatment for high ammonia levels and lyme disease that is not really making me feel too great.

Between her numerous grievances, she said some things like "you ONLY talk about your illness" (she asks me about it, so I answer) and the worst for me was "it's not your fault, but with my other friends it is less complicated because we can eat together". I won't list the rest.

I will take some distance from her because I need to heal and either be around people who support me or be alone right now.
it was a good reminder that I really need a quick response. It took everything I had to stay in non violent communication mode. 

I want to be able to communicate and help people understand that they are being insensitive in a direct, but kind manner. I am very nice and super caring, but if someone bites me, I do tend to bite back, so I am trying to be more open and accepting that chronic illness makes people uncomfortable and face their own reality of mortality etc. 

Oh and this expression “It’s amazing how chronic illness turns friends into strangers and strangers into friends.”  is so true, I have somehow made more friends recently than in the 13 years I have lived in switzerland. I never thought that it would be possible to make new friends while feeling so awful. Ha!
I am attracting people who either understand or don't make a huge deal out of it and just like to talk to me about other things and laugh. 

I had to really lower my expectations and sort of grieve the dream I had thought that my best friends and my husband would surely be as present as I was when anything happened to them. It is simply unrealistic and I am becoming an even stronger person in the face of this! 

Have a nice day everyone!

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I also talk about my disease a lot, it rules my life, it times when I do everything, it keeps me from going out much or doing what many consider normal social activities....I have stacked issues with celiac, odd allergies, pancreas issues, ulcerative colitis, autism, bipolar, adhd. I learned form years of abuse and dealing with people that endangered my life to be upfront about my issues and know I will only deal with humans on my terms (away from things that make me sick) and if they do not understand that or do not respect it they do not belong in my life.
I feel a deeper bond to others i just meet with celiac then friends or family I have known for decades that do not have any of these issues. Sorta makes me feel like a different species.

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Just as some foods can be toxic to you, so called “friends” can also be toxic.  Maintaining emotional health is just as important.  I have a few true friends that I can count on in times of trouble.  True friends.  The kind of friendships you can maintain for decades.  Life is too short to have unsupportive people in your life.  Celiac disease can really weed out true friends, that’s for sure.   Life is too short to hang around unsupportive people as Ennis suggested.  

I am also lucky that my own hubby went gluten free 12 years before me.   How ironic that I was diagnosed with celiac disease so many years later, but it has been really good for us.    

I try to host most parties or gatherings (maybe because I have  the time and I am a very good cook and excellent baker) or my true friends have learned that I will bring my safe food to events and they are not offended.  I also have been instigating active gatherings (hikes, walks, bike rides) with friends instead of eating.  

I wish I had a better response for you.  I am sorry that some of your “friends” are really not friends.  But I am confident that you will pull through!  

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It's not easy. I try to explain in ways they can relate to, like you know I can't just go down the flour aisle at the grocery store, because I would breathe in flour and that goes down the same way as eating it.  I could not help with remodeling the upstairs bathroom because of the gluten from the wall board and plastering was in the air...  I explain that you have to be more diligent like a peanut allergy, and most get it with these examples.

But at a recent family thing, a sister in law was sticking her fingers that she had just used to eat a sandwich with, into a bag of candy (which I don't eat anyway but regardless...), and asked if I wanted one because they were marked gluten free, and I said, thank you but I'm sorry, no, they're cross contaminated unfortunately because they've been touched after you ate other gluten food.  And she gave a snort and said "you might as well just live in a bubble .... ha ha ... like bubble boy". 

Well, I had defended her insensitive comments to others for over 30 years.  No more.  I will say hello and light niceties, but I just cannot talk to her like I care anymore, that was just over the line.  I guess it hit the core of how we feel and how our life becomes, but I just do not have to be in the vortex of someone who will go to that level.  Some people have to have karma teach them to see things from someone else's shoes, but most don't, they get it and are very understanding when they learn the facts of the disease.  And to those people, it is worth a little time to educate a little if they want.

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