People Suck Sometimes

Dear Robin:

I was finally diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis three weeks ago.  

I say “finally” because I spent years suffering from symptoms my doctor couldn’t figure out.  My recent visit to a specialist resulted in the diagnosis and although I’m worried and anxious, I’m happy to finally know what’s going on with my body.

I’m writing to you because I’m hurt by a friend (Brianna) who has made sarcastic remarks for years about my physical ailments.  She seemed to think I was faking my symptoms of exhaustion and muscle pain and fatigue.

I went to lunch with her after I was diagnosed and she said “you really need to move past your problems and try to be more positive.  Look at me!  I don’t sit around feeling sorry for myself all the time and look what I’ve been through what with my divorce, etc.”

It’s not just Brianna who has let me down.  The side effects from the new medicine I’m taking have hit me pretty hard and I finally broke down and asked another friend and a family member for help with my kids.  I never heard back from either of them.

Maybe I’m just whining and venting.  Any advice?

Sick of Being Sick

Dear SOBS:

My condolences on your diagnosis, although I agree it must be nice to finally understand why your body has been so rude to you all these years.  Knowledge is empowering!

Let’s talk about your problem, and by “your problem” I mean let’s talk about me.  Sorry, but this is my blog and I get to do this from time to time.

The Empathy Chip

Empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s experience by putting yourself in their position.  It is a beautiful, complicated, and vital human characteristic.  Empathy is probably a major key in our rapid and profound development as a species.  Go find some studies on empathy to prove my point because I haven’t the time.

Unfortunately, like musical talent or fabulous eyebrows, not everyone has a fully functioning empathy chip.  

Worse still?  Some people don’t have one at all.  People like Brianna either purposefully tamp down their empathy inclination or are simple unequipped to respond appropriately to your problems.

After considering this issue extensively I’ve come to the conclusion that those who lack empathy are not a good fit for my life. Perhaps the same is true for you. 

I consider my excess of empathy to be both a blessing and a curse, but overall I am deeply grateful for my overactive empathy chip. I love helping people and part of that is understanding and caring about where they are coming from. 

If you look around the world today and all the miserable shit within it, most problems (if not all) are based upon a lack of empathy.  As our species has allegedly advanced, we focus more upon individualism and selfishness rather than what others are going through and how to find compromise in and amongst us all.

  • War
  • Religious extremism 
  • Global warming
  • Human trafficking 
  • Pollution
  • Poverty
  • The Divorce Industrial Complex and lawyers who manipulate clients to churn fees
  • Lion-poaching small-dicked assholes like Walter J. Palmer


And on and on it goes.

My optimistic side thinks that maybe those who lack empathy can, with some work, develop it.  Then again, I had an exchange with a friend the other day which confirmed my suspicion those who claim to want to work on their lack of empathy usually don’t.  

Or perhaps they can’t…but either way, their presence in my life is a net negative.

Back to SOBS!

Perhaps you, like me, are a very empathetic person.  For that reason, I suggest a gentle pulling away from those in your life who are unsupportive and dismissive of your life experience.  

Brianna in particular sounds like a real piece of work and I can’t imagine she enriches your life.  Dump her.

As for those you reached out to in your time of need, ask yourself: is this a common theme with these folks?  If so, reconsider their position in your life.  

If not, exercise your own empathy chip and acknowledge shit happens.  People get busy or have problems of their own, so before you judge them too harshly take a look at your history with them over time.  If they tend to be loving, supportive, and empathetic, keep them in your life and cut them a break as they have likely cut you from time to time.

Speaking of you, I found a great website for you.  The Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America can be found here: Myasthenia Gravis Foundation.

Their website has a lot of great information for you, plus a list of support groups around the country.  Click here to check those out: MG support groups.

You have a somewhat rare condition that must be extremely frustrating for you to live with.  While your empathetic friends can certainly be of help to you, reaching out to and communicating with those who suffer from the same condition is a wonderful way to both receive support and give it at the same time.

I don’t know about you, but I feel the most confident, happy, authentic, and useful when I am being of service to others.  So thank you for your letter, because me helping you helps me too.  Please let me know how you are doing from time to time, would you?



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