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Helpful Advice

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Helpful Advice?

The response to this query below, read on Tumblr at Here’s That Bad Advice You Were Hoping For, really made me laugh. (I’ve included both question and response in full.  To read comments or more posts click on the blog link given).

Help, My Friend Won’t Stop Having Fibromyalgia At Me!

Carolyn Hax, 10 Feb 2010:

Dear Carolyn: One of my friends has had fibromyalgia for the past year. It makes me sad, and so I like to find alternative treatments and cures and tell her about them. She’s gotten really annoyed with me for doing this, but I am only trying to help and I think she should be more willing to listen to what I’ve found. She has a doctor she sees regularly and takes medication, but I don’t know why she brushes it off when I give her my advice. I feel really unappreciated and am starting to wonder if she even wants to feel better. — California
Dear California,

Your friend has put you in a terrible situation, without apparent regard for the degree of injury here. Sure, she lives with a painful, chronic medical condition that affects her ability to participate in the world and yadda yadda yadda, but you feel sad and unappreciated. Where, I ask you, is justice?

Just because your friend manages her condition with the assistance of medication and a trusted medical professional of her choosing doesn’t mean she’s getting the best care available to her, which is to say, the care recommended to her by a person who can use Google.

The bare fact is that your friend’s fibromyalgia is, fundamentally, about you. On the surface, that may seem counterintuitive—it may seem like your friend’s medical condition is solely her business, and that the management thereof is something she alone is entitled to, but that completely erases you, a person who read a thing about gluten one time, from the equation. And that isn’t fair—indeed, it’s even less fair than having fibromyalgia, which your friend could easily not have if she only read those 45 articles you just forwarded her from WebMD.

Why would your friend brush off advice—advice you heard from not one, but probably TWO yoga teachers—about managing her medical care just because she feels more comfortable treating her condition in the manner of her own personal choosing? It’s logically because she does not want to feel better, which is a direct attack on you, personally, the individual in this situation with the heaviest possible burden to bear.

If you stopped advising your friend about the miracle cures available according to pamphlets you picked up outside Whole Foods, who knows what might happen? She might continue to make the decisions that she feels are best for her own health, and you’ll be left with no one’s medical care to aggressively manage without their consent, an unimaginable travesty.

But the sorry truth is that we cannot fix everyone, can we?

Anyone who lives with a chronic illness and has had to endure countless hours of ‘helpful’ advice and suggestions on how their lives would be improved by (_____) – fill in your own blanks – must surely laugh at this.

I honestly do my very best to smile and be pleasant when yet another person gives me their – entirely uninformed – views on how best I should manage my health issues but, man, it is very difficult sometimes.  Perhaps I should just text or email a link to this article to those who persist and insist that they know best about a health condition that I LIVE WITH EVERY DAY.

Oops, sorry for shouting there but it is very annoying.  To the point where my stock response to all health queries is ‘I’m fine’ even when I’m very obviously not.

How do others deal with such ‘help’?

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