I don’t generally watch “Reality” TV. I’m not a fan of it but the other night there wasn’t much on, and I was channel surfing. I came across one of those Real Housewives shows…I don’t really know which one but it caught my attention because the wives were talking about another wife faking illness. I watched a little longer and learned that the wife they were talking about had been diagnosed with lyme disease and they didn’t believe she was sick.
They questioned her sickness because her symptoms were vague. They questioned if she was sick because her social media posts were a combination of pictures of her in the hospital and pictures of her on a boat enjoying her life. One wife said that this didn’t “make sense” because if you were really sick then you’d “be sick” and you wouldn’t be on a yacht one day and in the hospital the next. These women speculated about the other wife with great indignity. They spoke about her with disapproving tones.
The women even talked about her possibly having a psychological condition called munchausen syndrome . Munchausen syndrome is a mental disorder in which a person repeatedly and deliberately acts as they have a physical or mental illness when they are not really sick.
I found myself, somewhat embarrassingly, glued to the TV. I couldn’t help it because I know that I too have been judged. I know that people do not judge me to my face. I know that I have been deemed a liar and talked about by some who claim to support me. When you have a chronic condition, it becomes second nature to know who these people are. I’ve learned to sense it. I don’t have to hear what they say behind my back because I can feel it in their presence.
But, I have also learned not to care about what other people think or if they understand me. I only have so much energy and I need to use it wisely. I will not waste it on being upset by the ignorance of others. I know the truth and that is all that matters. I know that when I play tennis, I pay for it for hours and sometimes days afterward but that doesn’t mean I should give up playing. I know that trying to look as well as I can is something I do for my mental well being, even if happens to confuse others. Why should I try to convince them I am ill by neglecting myself. If my desire to live as normally as I can in between the bad days confuses some people enough to judge me, so be it.
Those housewives were unnecessarily cruel in their judgement of the other one. They were smug and arrogant in their certainty that she isn’t really sick. Shame on them. Shame on anyone who uses their time and energy to judge what they cannot possible understand.