“Have You Tried Yoga?” and Other (Not So)Helpful Suggestions

I went to the gym today! I lifted some weights, walked on the treadmill, and was starting to feel pretty kickass about the whole thing.

Until a fellow gym user approached.

“Your heart rate is pretty high for speed you’re going. You okay?” he asked, concern clear on his face. This irked me for a multitude of reasons and honestly, I could write for years about why mansplaining irritates the crap out of me, but that’s not what this post is about, so I’ve benched my inner feminist for the time being. Applaud, people, she doesn’t sit down easily.

I patiently explained my conditions and he listened with the fairly standard look of concern and shock. Then his expression shifted and his lips parted. He took a breath.

Oh no.

No, please. Not that. Anything but-

“You should really try yoga!”

I feebly thanked him for the tip and left the gym with the intent of coming home and following some of my favorite barre videos to complete my workout for the day.

His suggestion is one of the most common things people, usually able bodied people, say to me and other not so able bodied people like me. At face value, it’s a thoughtful suggestion that shows a desire to help, to offer an alternative way to get or stay healthy. The issue, however, is that, unless you are my doctor, I don’t really want your advice on how to manage my illnesses. Chances are, the other lemons and spoonies of the world are also tired of this suggestion.

ableist bingo
Notice the first box? Yeah, it’s not just me.

Now, I don’t want you to think that I don’t recognize and appreciate the intention behind some people’s suggestions. As I said before, they almost always mean well and just want to help you feel better. That’s the problem, though; there is no “feeling better”. There are good days and bad days, sure, but the root of the problem with suggestions and statements like these is the lack of understanding of what a chronic illness really is and what it’s like to live with.

One of these days, I’ll get around to writing the post I’ve been meaning to write about things you can say or do that are more helpful and supportive, but today for me needed to be about voicing some of the irritations. I know so many lemons and spoonies out there with horror stories of their own. If you’re ever looking for some fun times, look up Chronic Illness Cat memes. If you laugh at them, chances are you’re a spoonie or a lemon. If you don’t really get it or if you’ve said these things to someone, you should maybe talk to the lemons or spoonies in your life and work with them to come up with some better ways to talk about their health and wellness.

In the meantime, I’m off to give this yoga thing a shot. It comes highly recommended, or so I hear. 😉

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