The financial stigma of being ill: its psychological toll

One of the things that amazes me most about Canadian society, is the remarkable difference in how people look at me in the moments right after I tell them I have a chronic illness.

In the United States, I’ve countlessly been slapped with the ‘financial liability’ flash, once they find out I have a chronic illness.

Sometimes it’s obvious–like men who suddenly refuse to continue dating me after I mention I have a chronic illness. Nothing about me has changed. I’m still the same Tara I was during the first ten dates.

But most times, the financial slam is subtle. Since people don’t want to deny offering any kind of assistance to someone who suffers a lot, just because the suffer a lot, they hint at it by trying to slam my character.

Either way, it’s an assassination.

The reality is, if your friends and family don’t help you in the United States, there are very little resources otherwise. And people know this, either they know it by fact or they know it by instinct.

That’s why these walls get thrown up all the time. People have to find ways to block out what their conscience is telling them what I need.

I’ve been really really lucky to not have as big of a problem with this, as my life has been in the hands of my son’s godfather, who keeps me on the planet.

What is interesting to me though, is I don’t feel that same stigma when I meet people here in Canada. I’ve been hit on a few times since I’ve been here, and every time I’ve brought up my health problems, it has not been a deterrent. I don’t know if this is just a superficial disregard, because I didn’t pursue any of the relationships,

but I’ve been finding it over and over again here that when I talk about my health problems I’m met more with compassion.

It’s painfully obvious that I am very dependent on the people who keep me alive, to keep on keeping me alive. Some people like to live in fancy houses or drive fancy cars, I’m dependent on others to stay alive to the following year.

This is both humbling and scary. Once in awhile I see stories of how loved ones cared for coma patients for twenty years, patients who would have died without that support. I am one of those people.

I am very lucky to have that support, but very saddened that the U.S. can’t be more like Canada. It is interesting, this remarkable difference in people’s eyes. I can’t totally put into words what it is…it’s really just a split second flash across their face, but it’s so profound. “you’re a burden” versus “you’re a human being whose suffering”. That kind of the difference.

About hopeforanswers

Some kind of rare immune deficiency, yet to be determined. A lifetime of infections without an elevated white cell blood or fever. Very grateful to be alive, very thankful for the friends who’ve supported me and for access to literally millions of dollars worth of medical care. I’m not the bubble child, I’m somewhere in between.
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