Sharing about a chronic illness is not necessarily the same as attention seeking. Can it be? Sometimes. Most of the time, someone sharing about life with a chronic illness is doing two things:
1. Normalizing. There shouldn’t be secrecy, shame, and stigma around having a chronic illness or getting treatment for it. This is part of normal, everyday life for a lot of people. Your bad day is spilling coffee on your new jeans. My bad day is getting another cold and having to go off my meds. Anyone who calls one attention seeking and not the other has some bias they need to deal with.
2. Raising awareness. Rheumatoid arthritis is a really great example. Most people think RA is the same as the arthritis that occurs with aging. It’s NOT. RA is a very serious, potentially dangerous systemic autoimmune disease. It is progressively disabling. It can attack major organs. It shortens your life expectancy by an average of 20 years. And the treatments are no joke. But… time and again, those of us with RA will be hobbling around, and someone will ask what’s wrong. We’ll say, “I have rheumatoid arthritis,” and the response will be, “Yeah, I’ve got arthritis in my thumb. I just take two Advil and I’m fine!” Not. The. Same. Awareness matters. And awareness can change lives. I have had people who messaged me and decided to go see a rheumatologist because they recognized their own symptoms in things I’ve posted. That matters.
Being open =/= attention seeking