One of the most beautiful things about life is that no two individuals on this earth are the same. This couldn't be more true when it comes to illness. My Ehlers Danlos Syndrome specialist recently said to me that she could have six people with my condition sitting in the waiting room and they would all be different within their diagnosis. Bare in mind that although we may be diagnosed with the same illness, we can be similar in our struggles, but we are not all the same case and do not have to fit into a certain box or a 'textbook fits all' scenario of what is expected in how we live and deal with our illness.
No two bodies who suffer with the same illness are identical. No one experiences the exact same pain. We all have different personalities, emotions, qualities, beliefs, abilities, thoughts, opinions, thresholds, the list is endless and extremely relevant to our individual stories in how we live and cope with our chronic illnesses. We would never be able to guess how somebody else manages to cope, juggle a certain lifestyle or live day to day with their illness because we are simply not living with their pain. Therefore, we shouldn't be scrutinised by ourselves as well as others for our abilities as individuals in our respected illnesses. There has been many times in the past where I have even compared myself to others in chronic pain. I ended up hugely doubting my achievements compared to those of others, however this was not a rational way of thinking on my part because we are all built differently.
In life we are all guilty of comparing ourselves to others. Whether that be someone in our class when we are children, our siblings or family members, our idols or those of similar age. We handle all aspects of life in different ways. We can learn and grow from our own experiences as well as the experiences of others, but at the end of the day, you are your own person and will only ever experience life through your pain and eyes. I have read many times of the dilemma in which people have felt the need to play their illness up to make it look worse in order to be taken seriously. This may be so they seem on par with someone else or so that they make others understand just how much they suffer. This never even crossed my mind to be possible or for someone to feel this helpless, but in the last year I have heard it many times. It's such a shame that those suffering with valid pain feel the need to go to these great lengths through fear of comparison but also, lack of compassion.
I will say, the chronic illness or 'spoonie community' as it is commonly known is a mostly positive and highly supportive place. People are caring, kind, there for each other and friendships are built on the base of relating to living with chronic pain. However, in the past I have experienced opinions (which we are all rightly entitled to in life) delivered in a condescending, belittling or rude manner that almost seems like a slight dig towards others. Mostly, pushing of a lifestyle or way an individual deals with their chronic pain onto another. I'm sure it is meant kindly, online we take from things what we wish from a simple text, but people who are in a sensitive position such as chronic illness or disability can often take it the wrong way.
It is still positive to offer support and suggestions if you are in the same boat. Sometimes, its what people really need to hear. If you find hope in an outlet, do share what worked for you but be conscious in the delivery you give without sounding too forceful. By pushing an option onto someone based on the fact that it gave you positive results, it can often make an individual feel like they are failing if they don't gain the same benefit. There's many trial and error attributes with chronic illness and only the individual can find the solution in what will help aspects of their symptoms. For instance my own trial and error has come in the form of, my diet being constantly changed since 13 in hopes of lessening some of my stomach symptoms, finding great difficulty and lack of progress in my physio sessions in the past, swimming pools having a very bad affect on my autonomic dysregulations. However I do understand that the options above that haven't worked for me, may well have a rather positive effect on many others. In illness you feel a loss of control, of your body, your situation and your life. When people with illness imply they don't want to try at the moment, its not that they are completely shutting the door on that option. It's trying to express that they will look into trying these options but on their own terms in time.
In some situations, some of those with chronic illness do not have a support system at home or around them. Illness is terribly isolating and these individuals need to feel empowered and like they have someone on their team. I feel so grateful when someone feels courageous and willing enough to share their pain, troubles or ask me for advice within their journey with chronic illness. There is no feeling like being trusted and supported whole hearted by a person. Everyone's battle with illness is different, everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, everyone is unique in their struggle. Different people will have different thresholds and we should only try to lift each other up. Praise being a huge focus, not only to each other but ourselves for our achievements, big or small and continue to inspire without belittling or boasting.