I have a confession, I’ve used my illness as an excuse a time or two. I’ve said I had a migraine to get out of something or to leave something early. We’ve had an event or two that neither of us really wanted to attend, so I developed a migraine after we got there to give us an early out. On the other hand, there’s been a time or two that we agreed that would occur only to have a real migraine make an appearance. I’ve about decided that using an illness as an excuse is a sure way to jinx myself into feeling bad.
So, now that I’ve gotten my confession out-of-the-way, I want to share my inspiration for this post. A few weeks back, The Daily Headache shared an article from an advice column where the columnist actually suggested saying you have a migraine (instead of cramps) to get yourself out of work. Basically, male bosses may not feel comfortable with (or empathy for) PMS symptoms, but they may be more understanding of the idea of a migraine (it’s not just a girl thing). The columnist went so far as to say that migraines are seen as mysterious and even… glamorous? WTF!
As TDH points out, there’s nothing glamorous about migraines, or any chronic illness, for that matter. It’s bad enough that Fibromyalgia (especially) gets thrown around as an excuse on television and media in such a way that it exacerbates the feelings that many have that Fibromyalgia isn’t real. Chronic illness is not an excuse, and it should never be used as one. We deal with our symptoms enough, they poke their way into our reality on a constant basis, so why on earth would we want to throw them around when they aren’t really there?
I know the thought has crossed my mind a few times that my symptoms are there so much that it’s no big deal to call on them when needed to get out of a situation. The truth may even be that symptoms are there, but they aren’t really bad enough to make me leave an event (the truth is that if they were that bad – except for migraine – I probably wouldn’t have attended whatever it was in the first place). Yes, there are times when the environment of an event increases my symptoms to the point where I really do have to leave. And, maybe if I didn’t use my illness as an excuse when I did, staying would have increased my stress/symptoms to a point where I really did need to leave.
Then there’s the “What do I say to get out of it if I don’t use an illness?” The truth maybe? “I’m not up to being here tonight.” (Which is true, even if it’s that I’m mentally not up to being there). Isn’t it interesting that we would fake being well constantly, saying “I’m fine” when we don’t mean it. Yet, when we actually feel ok but just want out of a situation we will evoke our symptoms? Our illnesses are not there to be used as needed. How often are we really honest about our symptoms?
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