North Texas Daily

Stop downplaying the pain of the youth

Stop downplaying the pain of the youth

Stop downplaying the pain of the youth
July 12
14:00 2020

“Oh, you’re young, you’ll recover.” “Honey, you do not know even know what pain is.” Or, my all-time personal favorite, “You’re just exaggerating.”  These are common phrases heard by people like me, from other people, when we choose to talk about the struggles faced living with a chronic disease and/or condition. Most of the time we shrug it off, not wanting the person who said the ignorant statement to feel bad for their hurtful words.

Chronic diseases do not discriminate against a person based on their age, and this is a concept that needs to be understood. Children who are born with these illnesses are automatically protected and it follows them as they get older.

When it comes to kids who are in their early to late teen years when they are first diagnosed, it commonly gets dismissed as being associated with growing pains. Then, for people nearing the age of 20 to mid-20s, we get told we are working too hard and need to slow down. I have personally been told this one.

You think if we had to choose, these are the lives we would pick for ourselves? Daily fatigue, pain and the hundreds of other effects that come with these illnesses wondering, “why me?” I am almost 100 percent certain that if you asked anybody with a chronic disease if their life would be better without it, regardless of age, their answer would most likely be, “Yes, without a doubt.”

There is a feeling that a lot of young adults typically get when they reach the age of about 18. It is the feeling of knowing that your life is about to really begin. You are now an adult, and this is only the beginning of your journey to molding and laying out the foundation for the life you want to live.

It does not feel that way for those who are diagnosed around the same age as me. Our futures do not look like those of our healthier peers. We are never sure of what is going to come next or if what does come next is even manageable. Michele Yeo, an adolescent physician and Susan Sawyer, a professor and director say that young people with chronic conditions often face more difficulties when handling the tasks of our youth years compared to our health peers.

Therefore, the phrase, “you are young, you will recover,” is so disheartening to hear. Will we ever recover? Or are we just going to have to start dealing with this at an earlier stage than we would like?

So, to say or insinuate to young people experiencing these health issues that their pain is exaggerated or even non-existent, is flat-out one of the worst things you could say to someone who has one. Sometimes there is not even support from older people who experience chronic pain themselves. It has reached the point where sometimes I am not even sure of myself, and question if they are right and I am just exaggerating my pain.

During a trip to the emergency room a few months ago, I was naming off all my medical conditions and medications to an ER nurse. This is a routine I had gotten used to since the beginning of my journey years ago. After she was done, she jokingly asked me for my age again, followed by, “I’ve seen older people with less on their charts than you.”

After an awkward laugh and her finishing her job, she left the room and I thought to myself, “even people working in health services don’t truly care.”

When we share our stories, it is not because we want pity parties thrown in our honor. What we want is understanding, or at least respect, when we talk about it. I want people to understand that I want to live a life as care-free as the next person — it is just harder for me to do so at times. During these times it also needs to be understood that taking a break from my regular routine is mandatory for my overall health and wellness.

It is difficult enough for us to adjust and cope with the effects of these, at times, disabling illnesses, but when there is a lack of support and constant disbelief, it makes it that much harder to deal with.

Featured Illustration: Austin Banzon

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Peyton Jones

Peyton Jones

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