If you don’t know anyone with a chronic illness, or you don’t have a chronic illness yourself, you might have just heard some things around about chronic illnesses.. Some will be true, some will be a bit inaccurate. I have to admit, before I got ill, I didn’t really pay attention to if chronic illness myths were true or not – I just didn’t really think about them at all. I didn’t take them as gospel, but I didn’t question their accuracy.
I thought I’d write a blog post just touching down on five common myths about chronic illness and my thoughts on them.
Fatigue means you are tired. Myth. I used to not be able to comprehend fatigue. I think, until you’ve experienced it, you can’t quite understand just how different from ‘being tired’ it really is. I used to think that fatigue was just being really tired, but it turns out that it’s actually worse than exhaustion, sleep doesn’t cure it and it’s being so empty of any energy at all that you can’t even move, or get dressed, or function. Definitely different.
You must be physically unhealthy/overweight/have an unhealthy lifestyle to develop a chronic illness. Myth. Some unhealthy lifestyle choices can cause chronic illnesses, or chronic pain, but you don’t have to have been unhealthy in any way previously to end up with a chronic illness. Chronic pain does not discriminate, as I learned three years ago.
Eating healthily and exercising can cure chronic pain. Myth. When people say that going vegan/taking up a supplement/going to the gym every day cured their chronic illness, good for them, but this statement is simply a myth. If going vegan could cure my compressed nerve in my brain, telling my face that I’m in pain all the time, I would do it. However, I have a condition with no known, guaranteed cure. If it worked, we’d all know about it by now.
Stress causes chronic pain. Myth. But my pain is amplified by it and I’m sure this rings true for many other medical conditions. Stress does manifest itself as a physical symptom for a lot of illnesses. When I’m stressed, my Trigeminal Neuralgia flares up quite badly, but I’m still in pain when I’m not stressed and stress didn’t cause my condition. Chronic illnesses can be caused by lots of things: infection, bacteria, genetics, or injury, just to name a few.
Seeing a GP can help whatever symptom/medication can fix it. Myth. Seeing a doctor can help you, but he or she might not be able to cure all your problems. My GP hadn’t heard of TN, but my doctor at the pain clinic actually lived with neuralgia. I do think sometimes it’s about getting lucky with where you live and who you see. Medication has helped me, but it’s also caused me a lot of problems. The side effects have been really difficult for me and the medication hasn’t even taken away all of my pain. Medical science doesn’t know all the answers. Seeing a GP could help you, or, for some lucky ones, cure you, but this isn’t the case for everyone. When you might think I should see my GP, when I’m complaining about a symptom, but not doing anything ahout it, I’m just saving myself a wasted trip for something I know can’t be helped.
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