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Woman angrily dismissing another person looking dejected and frustrated (with their back to the viewer.)

“You Would Feel So Much Better if You Just ______.”

“You would feel so much better if you just: exercised, lost weight, put on makeup every day, showered every day, did yoga, went out more, quit thinking and talking about being ill, had a positive attitude, etc., etc., yada, yada, yada”!!!!!

I’m sure each of you has heard all these and more. This past week, I got earfuls of this from one of my friends. One of my friends actually said to me, “I don’t want to listen to this, it’s depressing.” Seriously?? I was stunned! I couldn’t believe she wouldn’t listen because it made her depressed. Was I wrong to expect my friend to listen? I’ve listened to her every time she asked.

When friends don’t understand life with RA

I believe our friends try to “fix” us so that we can be their “fun” friends again. Sometimes, I just want someone to listen, not to fix. I want someone to acknowledge that this life of mine is rough. I don’t want you to compare yourself to me. I don’t want to hear that you “understand” my pain, because you don’t. Your osteoarthritis is nothing like my rheumatoid arthritis. I know this because I have both. I am not negating the pain of osteoarthritis as it is painful. However, it does not invade my entire life like an autoimmune disease does.

Listening is important in friendships

I do not discuss my limitations often, because I don’t want to be a burden. But there are times when it is necessary, and I truly want someone to listen. I just want you to share in my grief. Yes, my grief. We have all lost the dream of what our life would be. In moving forward with the grief of our limitations, we must choose to adapt. I don’t know about you, but I’m not always accepting of my body. Sometimes, I’m tired of adapting to a “new normal.”

The unique ways that my life has changed

My life is nothing like I imagined. And yet in many ways, it is more than I dreamed. I never would have found my current job if I hadn’t had limitations. As an RN, it’s gratifying to know I can still make a difference and earn an income as a parish nurse. It is the best job I have had in my 33 years of experience. I also would have never found this community. This community has sustained and encouraged me, and given me the opportunity to write.

The importance of being understood

So how do we respond to these well-meaning friends? What do we do when our friends want to fix us and cannot understand that our bodies refuse? As I learned when my husband died by suicide, no one understands the journey you travel unless they have traveled it as well.

I spend a lot of time on because here I have people who understand me. I don’t feel alone when I am on this site. I also spend time with friends who will listen.

What do you do? I would love to hear great ideas from people who understand.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • tckrd
    3 days ago

    This is going to sound harsh and it is. If they say and act that way they are not friends. Get rid of them.

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    5 days ago

    The best people who understand me is my wife. We have shared experience. It is the share experience that makes the difference in my life. So I hang with people with arthritis and other things.

  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator author
    5 days ago

    Great idea Rick!! Thanks for reading!
    Mary Sophia

  • Daniel Malito moderator
    6 days ago

    @c7mv96 I’ve hear it all – copper bracelets, exercise, gin soaked raisins, glucosamine, unicorn horn – the list goes on and on. I just say thanks and move on, since we know that none of that stuff works or else we’d be using it. For me it’s all pharmacological and a bit of physical therapy. That’s what works for me, but I also tell people whatever works for you – do it! Doesn’t matter if its dancing naked in the pouring rain. If it makes you feel better, do it. Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator author
    5 days ago

    Thanks Daniel! I know your sense of humor helps you and all of us. We are each unique and need to find what works for us.
    Mary Sophia

  • Franki King moderator
    7 days ago

    Thanks for the great article, Mary! I actually don’t ever talk about it with my friends anymore because I know they will never understand and that is okay with me. Usually, they can tell when I am having an extra painful day and they ask me, “arthritis?” to which I reply “yes.” From that small interaction they know to treat me more gently and more kindly that day which is something that means the most to me. It is spending time with them and dancing with them and laughing with them that reminds me of how lucky I am and how much worse I could have it.

    Franki, Team

  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator author
    7 days ago

    Hi Franki!
    I have 2 friends who listen and make me feel better. I have learned that calling it rheumatoid disease seems to work better.
    I really appreciate your comments and am glad your friends understand when to be gentle with you.
    Mary Sophia, Team

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