How to Handle “But you don’t look sick” and “so, what’s wrong with you?”

p4040356-225x300Before I became ill I hadn’t much experience with random people and their unconsidered comments.

After I was ill, my world seemed to be saturated with them.

I have so often been shocked and stumped at the remarks and prejudice from seemingly reasonable people. An off colour, off hand phrase could anger me and I would let it throw me off for a day or so, maybe even longer. Now I am more prepared; I have more understanding.

Let’s start with quoting some of their words, so you know just what I’m talking about.

“But you don’t look sick.”

“I know a girl, she’s just like you, in a wheelchair and everything. Her life is over.”

“What’s wrong with you? What’s your prognosis? What do the Doctors say?”

“Will you ever walk again? You are going to get better aren’t you?”

“Get better for me.”

“Oh my aunt had that same condition… She died from it.”

“God did this to you.”

“Were you born like this? Did you used to be normal?”

“So exactly how long have you been ill?”

“Can you have children?”

“Have you tried walking/exercising/prayer/goji berries/drinking more water?”

“Well, you always used to [fill in the blank] so I knew you’d get ill from it.”

“You’re such an inspiration. You’re so brave.”

“I was having a terrible day, but then I saw you, smiling and happy and it made my life seem better”

The list goes on and you could probably add your own I’m sure. Even people who seem to be offering positive comments. You may ask what is wrong with being called “inspiring”? It’s a compliment but sometimes people seem to think wheelchair or illness plus smile equals inspiration. And it just isn’t so.

Calling someone an inspiration might be new to the person saying it but if I have heard it five times that day it gets very old very quickly.

When people I love and respect honour me with these words it is beautiful. When someone finds my work lifts their spirits it is an honour.

But from a stranger in the street who knows nothing of me but that I use a wheelchair it can be hard to take. In my view I am not brave as bravery is a choice and I didn’t get the option in this situation.

I used to be so shocked by the sheer lack of manners that I wouldn’t know what to do. Funnily enough my social training did not equip me for gracefully deflecting and dealing with these situations.

Yes, the unwelcome, uninformed remarks gets frustrating so my advice is to think about it before hand and decide if you are going to answer when people ask what is wrong with you. You could say, “actually I’d rather not talk about that today thank you” or “I’m not comfortable discussing my health with someone I don’t know” or pretend to only speak Italian.

If this is a problem for you, if you are often stumped by this situation then we have something for you…

TrailBlazers’ Conference July: How to cope with “What’s wrong with you?”
Monday 23rd July 2012 from 7.00pm to 8.30pm UK time, 2.00pm – 3.30pm ET, 1.00pm – 2.30pm CT, 12.00- 1.30pm MT, 11.00am- 12.30pm PT.

We are crafting a safe container to share and explore our experiences with the often ill-thought comments. Almost everyone has a story of the awful comments they have had but what few of us have is a good reply.

How do we navigate these waters? Can we diffuse the situation without crossing our boundaries? Is it possible to shift these experiences into empowering situations? Can we come away feeling happy?

We are exploring and answering these in our Sick Chick to Trail Blazers’ Conference July!

Hot topics covered:

:: How to deal with “So, what’s wrong with you?” and “But you don’t look sick!” conversations.

:: Unpacking why people make these comments and how we can keep feeling good when we are subject to them.

:: Creating our own “illness/wellness pitch”.

:: Crafting empowering replies to the awkward and inevitable questions.

:: Energy work to shield and ground ourselves during our adventures.

:: Our guest speakers will be the wonderful Terri Cole and Dyana Valentine. Terri will be using her experience as a psychotherapist, a life coach and a cancer survivor to help us get the most from these conversations. Dyana is the creatrix of Pitch Perfect™ and an expert at how to get your point across in that deer-in-headlights-moment. Come on over and craft your wellness pitch live with us!

The conference will create community, solidarity, trouble-shoot practical challenges, instigate new realisations and shift consciousness towards self care, pride and empowerment.


Online via Teleconference and secret Facebook group.

What you get:

:: Monthly Teleconference.

:: Group and one on one coaching on the call.

:: Secret Sick Chick to Trail Blazer Facebook Cafe.

:: Guest interviews.

:: Troubleshooting.

:: Energy work.

Our first conference was a beautiful triumph with special guests Michelle Ward of WhenIGrowUpCoach.com, Kyeli of ConnectionRevolution.com and Dr Callie Broussard Wheeler of the newly published book Healing From Cordon Bleu to Cancer at BasicMissions.com.

Want a sample?

You can hear Michelle, Kyeli and Callie guest speaking here.

Pricing: £15/$25 per conference. Repeat Trail Blazers pay £10/$15.

How do I get a ticket?

Book via Eventbrite