Suggestion box with lock and chains

My Suggestion Box is Full

When I was in high school, almost all my teacher's had "inboxes." They were spots where we could place late homework or excuse notes, in addition to personal notes with questions or suggestions. Some teachers encouraged us to give constructive criticism about their teaching style! But a former history teacher's suggestion box sticks out in my memory: it was a trash can labeled "suggestions." And I'm not going to lie; sometimes I wish I could tell people that when they have advice for me.

Dealing with unsolicited advice

People of all walks of life get all kinds of undesirable advice (new moms are particularly aware of this). But something is triggering about the words "arthritis," "psoriasis," and "autoimmune." It's almost like it triggers a response in people's brains to give advice, even if they don't know very much.

Some days, suggestions grind my gears. Do they really think a copper sleeve is going to make my chronic pain just disappear? How in the world would a 'magic' juice cure my autoimmune disease? Sometimes, advice makes me feel like I'm being dismissed. And phrases such as 'if you only did/didn't' feel like others are accusing me of causing my illness.

But as annoying as it is, I do try to keep a couple of things in mind before I respond:

There's constant marketing for arthritis-related products

First of all, articles, products, and other things have come out targeting arthritis. They're marketed widely, so most people come across these ads daily. It does make people think that curing these diseases is possible and straightforward. People were so relieved for me when I started taking a biologic they saw on a commercial. They were so excited to see me begin playing tennis and golfing like the actors!

Sometimes, it's also the case of misinformation. A lot of people (much to my annoyance) confuse psoriasis with... well, anything from dry skin to eczema. I remember reading an article as a teenager titled "7 Skin Diseases that are Easy to Treat" is a fashion magazine, and psoriasis was number two!! I was outraged because I knew other people would read this article and be convinced psoriasis is simple enough to treat.

People want to help

Also, I try to believe that people are good. For some people, advice is their way of helping. They heard from a certain TV doctor that turmeric helps arthritis, and wanted you to know that. I try to tell myself, "Elizabeth, appreciate that they heard this advice and thought of you," especially when it comes to family and friends.

The reality is, I know most people are just trying to be helpful in their own way. Do most of the suggestions I receive get filed into my mental "suggestions/trash" bin? Absolutely. But I like to be nice about it. Being annoyed wastes precious energy that I don't have to spare.

But you don't have to be patient all the time

Of course, there are times that I'm quick to brush off people. When others try to preach "cures" to me, I usually say "well, I'm doing what I need to do to take care of my autoimmune disease" and change the subject. There are even times I'll end the conversation if they force the issue, but that isn't common. Aggressive, "if you only" conversations have no place in my life, especially when it comes from those who have no idea what I go through daily.

A part of life

Ultimately, I accept that receiving unsolicited advice is just a part of life. Though irritating at times, I make my best effort to shrug it off and feel happy that someone thought of me. And sometimes, I have to laugh at some of the more interesting remedies! Whenever someone tells me that applying cabbage to sore joints can relieve pain, I'm tempted to ask where I can buy cabbage big enough to cover my entire body. When I'm in need of advice, I know I'll turn to the experts: my doctor, physical therapist, and communities like this.

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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.

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