A Letter to the Older Crowd from the Young Chronic Pain Crowd

Dear Older Crowd,

I’m writing to you on behalf of the younger crowd, of which I’m a member. I’m not intending to insult your crowd, as there are many people I love in your group. My parents, grandparents, Tom Hanks. However, there are some things I need to discuss with you all regarding chronic pain. I know many of you have arthritis, fibromyalgia, back and knee pain, etc. But you’re not the only ones. We suffer from chronic pain too. There are many things that your crowd has said to us that are frustrating and hurtful.

“You’re too young to be in pain”. No, we’re not. Why do you think younger people are incapable of having chronic pain? Don’t get me wrong, it completely sucks, and I wish I wasn’t in pain every single day. Maybe it’s because you didn’t experience pain until you got older, or maybe you didn’t have a young person in your life who had chronic pain. I don’t know. But saying that phrase is hurtful because it’s as if you don’t believe us. Ever hear of juvenile arthritis? Do some research. Unfortunately there are too many of us that live with chronic pain. So please refrain from saying we’re “too young to be in pain”.

There’s another one that’s quite bothersome. “Wait until you’re my age!” When your crowd says that to us, we hear, “Ha! You don’t know what pain is. You’re young so your pain can’t possibly be worse than mine!” First of all, it’s not a competition. Second of all, you’re once again dismissing our illness and how we feel. Put yourselves in our shoes for a moment. How would you like it if someone didn’t believe you were in pain and passed it off like you were complaining about a hangnail? I’m guessing you wouldn’t feel that great.

Now I know that not everyone over 50 is like this. There are so many supportive and understanding women and men in your crowd. I have a few in my support system. However, I speak to young people with Fibromyalgia on a daily basis in my online support group and I’ve heard several heartbreaking stories regarding interactions with older people. Some were questioned about their handicapped placards, others had rude comments made about using wheelchairs or canes. Oh, and telling young people in chronic pain that they should be thankful they don’t have a terminal illness? Yeah, that doesn’t help us. I’m always appalled when I hear these stories. Please, older crowd, if you’re doing any of these things, I beg you to stop.

I truly hope that this resonates with you, older crowd. Think before you speak. We should all be supportive of each other, regardless of age. Thank you for listening.

Sincerely,

The Younger Crowd

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