When I’m Sick, Please Stop Saying This
Last updated: October 2022
"You look so good for someone who is sick!" "You hide your illness well. I would have never guessed you weren't feeling well."
Have you heard those lines before? Most times, those who say that mean well. They likely think they are saying something kind or that we want to hear.
But little do they know. It angers so many of us. At least it angers me.
I try to be appreciative and take it as a compliment, but the reality is it makes my blood boil. Especially after I had just told them I was not doing well.
Many may wonder why someone saying something like that would make me angry. Why would I want to look sick? Why wouldn't knowing even though I don't feel well, someone thinks I look good not make me happy to hear?
Being told that I don't look sick annoys me
Here are five reasons why I wish you would stop saying this to me.
You are implying that being sick should have a certain look
Every time I hear someone tell me I don't look like I am sick, I always want to ask them what being sick should look like.
Does it have to look like you are losing hair? Do you have to lose color in your face, have tired eyes, or seem malnourished to be sick? Do I constantly need to have a sad face, cry or never laugh?
Here's the thing, there is no single way to describe what being sick looks like, and someone should not have to look a certain way not to feel well.
It makes me feel like you think I am lying about my illness
When someone points out I look too good to be sick, it makes me feel like a fraud. Like, maybe I am not sick.
I start to think they don't believe me and that I need to start explaining to them why I may not look sick to them. Almost as though I have to justify to them what is happening inside my body.
Quick reminder, you do not have to justify your illness, not feeling well, or 'not looking sick' to anyone!
It makes my illness seem like it is easy to manage
Just because I may be laughing, looking happy and upbeat, it doesn't mean what I am dealing with is easy. I am genuinely not pulling anything off.
Honestly, that laugh is filled with pain, and that happy look is filled with tears that want to break free. Oh, and that cute outfit I am wearing, it's hiding the inflammation and bloat I feel throughout my entire body.
It makes me feel insecure
I know I don't look good. I know I don't feel good. I know I am not in the same body I was in years ago before my diagnosis.
So hearing that I "look good" causes me more anxiety than making me feel confident or better. I feel I have lost control of how I look.
The acne, the tired eyes, the grim smile you think is 100% real, the water weight, I am well aware of it all and how it has altered my appearance. So hearing that I look good makes me think about all the ways I know I don't and how truly uncomfortable I am in my skin.
I am reminded of the person I used to be before my illness.
It makes me feel defensive
I can't even count the number of times I have gone to the doctors with so much pain on the inside, but because I looked 'normal' on the outside, they would tell me nothing was wrong and to go home.
When you tell me I look good, it just goes along with what my doctors told me, and I begin to doubt my pain. It brings up memories of all the times I have had to fight with doctors and be told it was all in my head and that I was a hypochondriac.
It reminds me of all the struggles still yet to come with doctors and medical professionals.
I am actually in a lot of pain and just want to cry
I don't want to hear I look good and not sick when my insides feel like someone is screwing screws into every one of my organs. That smile, that "happy energy" I am showing up with, is taking everything out of me.
But I am doing my best to act like a human and not like a zombie has taken over my body.
Not everyone feels this way about compliments like this, but I know many can relate. Living with an invisible illness is hard.
Whether you are trying to be supportive and encouraging by telling us we look good for being sick, or maybe even honestly think we look okay, it is hard for many of us to accept.
We truly thank you for being supportive, but please, if someone tells you they don't feel well, be supportive differently instead of automatically going to how we look.
What do you hate to hear from someone when you tell them you aren't feeling well or having a bad day?
Which symptoms are you experiencing the most this week? (Check all that apply):