“You remember Auntie Elsie, she danced in the moonlight during the third new moon with a radish and an artichoke whilst naked, chanting songs by ABBA. It cured her of her illness. You should try it.”
“Or remember Uncle Malcolm. He had what you had and he was fine after taking paracetamol.”
Unsolicited advice; it can be the bane of a zebra’s life. It comes in all shapes and sizes. From the elaborate rituals to the simple pull yourself togethers.
The problem is that it can feel very dismissive or even disrespectful.
To be told that something is “just in your head” is very hard to hear. Our symptoms are very real and we are desperate to find answers that will actually help us.
I was once told at a party that I was just a bit depressed and I just needed to cheer up. The reality was that I had a diagnosis for Hypermobility Syndrome and I had a huge case of depression to boot. It was a time when I needed compassion not a cold shoulder. I don’t believe that this was the person’s intention but it left me feeling hurt and thinking that they hadn’t listened, didn’t get it and hadn’t even tried to.
I accept that people want to give advice that they genuinely believe is helpful but it’s about being sensitive to your audience.
If you’ve read an article or heard a segment on the radio or seen a new book on Amazon, please share it with us. It shows you care and that you’ve had us in your thoughts.
I recently sat and had coffee with my lovely Auntie B and we talked about mindfulness and a book that she had found worked for her. She uses it for completely different reasons to me but she wanted to share it because she believed it would help with pain management.
This is the type of advice that I find to be the most helpful. Something that we can look into and discuss sensibly. Something that shows you understand and have thought about our needs.
Because, let’s be honest. Auntie Elsie didn’t actually dance starkers in the garden and it wouldn’t cure a bad case of gas, let alone anything else. And Uncle Malcolm most certainly did not have what you have. If he did, I’d be all over the paracetamol rather than 20 million pills I have to take each day.
We love that people care and want to help us but it’s important that you talk to us, not at us.
And if you were wondering, naked moon dancing is greatly encouraged at Electric Zebra hq. I’ll let you decide to bring artichoke or not.
The Electric Zebra