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Why is it bad to look good?


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Why is it that when someone tells us that we look good (presumably despite our illness), it makes many of us unhappy? Is this reaction a side effect of having been told too many times that our problems are imaginary? Or maybe some people detect an underlying suggestion that we are not really as sick as we let on. Personally, I've not had a problem with this issue, because when I was desperately sick, people would volunteer the information that I looked awful. When I started feeling better, people would say things like, "Gee, your face isn't so gray anymore."

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Iguess I just get tired of being told I look good after expaining my illness. I don't feel good, so don't wnat the contradiction of being told I look great when I feel like crap. Bad attitude I guess. I just don't find it validating, when I feel awful to hear, "but you look so good." I'm skinny now, so what. Being skinny doesn't make me feel better and I find it odd that people think if you are slender, you must be healthy. Like I said bad attitude.... :ph34r:

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There is an air of disbelief that I often find accompanying the "compliment" ... especially when it starts off with "BUT you look good." Often followed by a litany of other insensitivities like

"I wish I could go home and nap at lunch."

"Gee I wish I had your luck and could loose all that weight."

"Must be great getting all the good parking spaces."

"I wish my husband waited on me hand and foot."

"Must be wonderful to retire at 30."

Ok, these didn't all happen to me (most did) ... I just got on a roll ;-)

EM

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I had a nurse at the hospital in January tell me, "gosh, you don't LOOK like a patient". My reply was "well, that because everything that's broken is hidden on the inside". She didn't have any more questions after that!

EM, I would like to add another to your list and that is "wow, you are so LUCKY to have disablility payments AND you don't have to work" like we wouldn't give it up in a minute to be healthy enough to return to work. People just don't get what they are saying. And, my least favorite is when someone says, "aren't you glad you don't have cancer" or you are so much better than this person I know who recently was in a car accident...." It is as though what we struggle with everyday is not as devastating. The people I like most are those who have said to me, "you are very BRAVE to face what you do everyday. I don't know that I could do like you do and with a positive attitude". That's so much better than you don't look sick, right?

I know it is through ignorance, not an intent to be hurtful, but people really can say the darnest things! It has been a real learning lesson for me and as I meet others who have illness or disability, I try to think before I speak and be sensitive to their needs much more so that I might have done in the past.

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I agree with the pots related comments. My favorite is when people say"YOU dON'T LOOK OLD ENOUGH TO BE A GRANDMOTHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So it can go both ways, depending on how we are feeling. Miriam

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I echo Morgan's comments. I am very thin due to massive weight loss that is POTS-related, and even though I am about 10 pounds below the bottom of the "normal" weight range, I am always told I look great. "How do you do it?" everyone asks.

I was telling my husband the other day how strange it would be to actually say what I felt -- for instance, I could respond to this question by saying, "Well, first I had a baby, then my heart pounded uncontrollably while standing for about two months before I got put on a medication that stopped that. But I continued to lose tons of weight despite eating 3000-plus calories a day and lifting weights. So then I mostly laid in bed for a couple months, missing the majority of my daughter's precious first months. And now I pretty much eat anything I want and still lose a pound here or there."

I have a feeling saying something like this would make me laugh because of how ridiculous it sounds, but make the other person feel like an ***. It is so sad that our culture judges beauty and health based on your weight rather than on the light in your eyes and the spirit in your soul. Those are what really count and are markers of truly good health of mind and body.

Amy

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Hi everyone,

Boy, this conversation just reinforces how much we all have in common. I love the comment about everything being broken inside instead of outside. I will have to use that one.

I think people say we look so good because they really think that that will make us feel better. Usually healthy people take so much for granted. They have NO clue of what a chronic illness REALLY means in day to day terms, so of course they will have few helpful enlightening things to say. They may hurt us when they don't really mean to out of ignorance. That helps me not get so upset. It is just like the person without children who is intolerant of the antics of children. They just don't have the real life experience.

I think it gets us upset because it makes us feel as if we are being blown off, and dismissed.

Our illness enlightens us so that we know how to interact appropriately with another ill person as someone else said. I have a very ill 40 year old friend with rheumatoid arthritis who cannot practice as a pediatric oncologist anymore. If it were not for her illness, she probably would not have been able to dramatically help me accept my illness. Her illness paved a pathway for my me. I learned from her.

THe above friend of mine is married to a man who is paraplegic after being struck by a car while riding his bicycle. Her husband can work so SHE is more disabled than he is, although she LOOKS normal.

Karyn

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I don't mind being told I look good if I feel good, but I think I have this deep rooted fear of not being believed, because, well, for so long, no one knew what was wrong with me. The subtle implication in my eyes was that my symptoms and the way I felt so rotten were visible only to me. I suppose it's reassuring to know, in a sense, that if we're feeling rubbish, other people see it too.

Otherwise, I feel like I have to justify why I feel bad. I think most people with POTS have negative experiences form medics who've been cynical/sceptical at some point... :(

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I think that when someone says you look good, they are trying to be nice and trying to beef up your spirits. When I tell my niece she looks good, I can tell she is very encouraged and feels that maybe she is making headway in this battle against POTS. I know how sick she is and think of her constantly. I pray that all of you will get better. I would never think for a minute that someone isn't sick because of the way they look. When I see color in her lips and cheeks, I am encouraged. More, when I see light in her eyes, I know she is having a good day. It is almost impossible to stay upbeat when your body is so ill. I would hope that the people that tell you that you look good are trying to lift your spirits.

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Linda, I understand what you are saying, I'm just cynical enough to think most people, not all, are saying it in another way. How can you feel bad if you look good? I saw a burn patient on T.V. yesterday and I wondered with her entire face suffering third degree burns, how many people tell her she looks great. And how would she interpret that? I guess I feel like a person with the burns on the INSIDE, and therefore they just don't count. My real friends don't say I look great because they know I'm sick. It doesn't matter what I look like, they KNOW my pain is on the inside, where as most people who say, but you look so good, don't really know me very well, which implies I can't be ill if they can't see it. The people who love me, ask how I'm feeling, they don't tell me how I'm looking. I'm glad it perks your niece up, but she has no reason to believe you are doing anything but helping her. It's not that way with everyone. You are a great aunt to shore her up and I'm glad she appreciates it. I hope and pray she doesn't develop the cynicism and depression over this subject that I have. morgan

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I don't want to look good, I want to FEEL good

Corina

morgan, I know how sick all of you feel on the inside. I can only imagine how depressing this horrible illness is. My niece is more cynic about the doctors than anything else. One day they tell her she will get better and the next they tell her she will probably never improve.She is such a beautiful person inside and out. It is hard to see a young woman with a type a personality so debilitated. She has her moments, especially now with a new baby. It must be such a frightening feeling wondering how you are going to care for an infant when you can't take care of yourself. Sometimes when I see her, she does look good and you can forget for a few minutes how sick she really is. After a half hour, her color gets sallow and I know she is exhausted just from talking for a little bit. Believe me, when I leave, I do alot of tear shedding on my way home. She never complains and only a few times to me has she revealed how scared she really is. My heart breaks for all of you and I pray every night that they will find a cure for all of you. I had never heard of POTS until September. I pray every night that all of you will wake up the next morning and be "normal" and get your lives back. Linda

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After pointing out that people usually tell me how good I look on days that I feel my worst, a friend who's been there for me from the beginning had a theory that it must be that on days when one feels so lousy and still pushes forward, it makes the positive inner spirit of the person shine forth..People are expressing it in a physical way but it's the beauty of meeting a challenge that makes us look attractive.

I've learned to just say thank you. Anyone who is really there to help us will ask further questions.

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