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No one wants to sit with me: the social perils of chronic illness

on Sep 28, 2016 | 3 comments

New Zealanders have a peculiar communicative trait, likely uplifted from the British.  Our go-to phrase, on encountering someone we know, is to make a query along the lines of ‘how are you?’ It’s purely a verbal tic; no one wants to know the answer if it’s anything other than ‘good’, and that’s doubly so if the respondent is sick or has a chronic illness. To be chronically unwell (I am speaking here primarily of my experiences, there are undoubtedly multiple variations and permutations that others face) is to be the problem child (I recognise this term itself is problematic, but bear with) that no one really wants to sit with. You have limited energy; you can only play with others for so long before you flake out, or you can’t get yourself together enough to play at all.  Eventually people, even your friends, stop throwing you the ball because you’re not as fun as you once were, or you...

On privilege

on Sep 7, 2016 | 0 comments

Scrolling through my Facebook feed just now, I see one of my (thin) friends is planning on attending the New Zealand Chocolate Festival.  I can’t help but think how different her experience at such an event would be, compared to mine. I’m well practiced at not noticing strangers’ scorn at what I’m eating (this could in part be because I tend to keep my eyes averted because I’m somewhat people-avoidant), but at a chocolate festival, I would be self-conscious and alert to my presence as an ‘alarm bell’ to others, reminding them of what could happen if they eat ‘too much’. My slim friend, on the other hand, would be free, at this festival, to eat as much as she pleased (so long as she made some self-deprecating remarks about how ‘bad’ she was being), and she could share images of what she saw or ate on Instagram or elsewhere for others to experience vicariously, with no judgements, moral...