“But you look so good!”

If you type in these words into any search engine, you will find that this frequent exclamation makes people with chronic illness positively simmer!

It all starts with the word “But.” Here’s an example:

You’ve just told your friend that you have been dealing with a chronic illness (ex: multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, cardiac disease, fibromyalgia, etc.)

Your cheeks are rosy, perhaps from Prednisone, makeup or your natural complexion. You have a light in your eyes, because you are happy to see your friend. Then, presumably to help you feel better, your friend says:

“But you look so good!”

“But.” But what? But you are really not as sick as you say? But you look completely healthy, so you must be exaggerating your experience? But what I see is more real than how you feel, so you are a bit neurotic?

The “but” negates all of your experience.

I’ve learned to say, “Yes! Thank you. I wish my insides would look as good as my outsides!”

Perhaps it would be more helpful to say, “Oh, you really mean ‘and.’ And in spite of what I’ve been dealing with, I look good! I appreciate that. Thank you!”