On one of the headache forums I read, a member I’ll call Jane posted that a family member told her that Jane causes her migraines from the guilt she has about conflict in her life and fear. Receiving daft unsolicited advice is one of the side effects of illness that most doctors don’t warn you about.
Those who give advice, whether it is legit or absurd, are probably truly trying to help. It is hard to see someone suffer so much and not be able to fix the problem. Unfortunately, the advice often comes off as judgment, implying (or saying straight out) that we bring on our pain ourselves. How many with migraine haven’t wondered if this is in fact the case? We don’t need someone else to doubt us; we do that plenty on our own.
I rarely stand up for myself in situations like Jane’s. It just doesn’t seem worth the energy. But if my current outrage is any indication, I’m harboring much resentment about such advice. I need to speak up.
How will I tell misguided advisers thanks, but no thanks? There’s the polite: “Hmm, that’s an interesting idea.” Or the oh-so-nice and passive-aggressive approach: “Thanks for your concern, but I have a complex neurological disease that can’t be cured with platitudes.” I’m partial to: “Buzz off” (perhaps replacing “buzz” with a stronger word).
My response will depend on the person giving the advice and if I think it is offered out of kindness. How fed up I am that particular day will surely be a factor too.