I watched a powerful video by Whitney from the YouTube channel “What a Vegan Eats”, and it struck a chord with me.  You see, I’ve watched videos on her other channel “Eco-Vegan Gal” for years, but I’ve never known her story.  That changed after watching her video about being judged, and although she feels judged for different reasons, I still relate to it in the context of having a chronic illness.

If you’d like to watch her video, please check it out HERE.

Whether we like it or not, if you’ve got an invisible or chronic illness, people will judge you. Whether they’re saying that “you don’t look sick” or don’t seem “sick enough”, they are judging.  Even when they see you eating food that might not agree with your gut, they judge. Being judged like that hurts, and the scars tend to stick around for a while.

From the outside, what looks like laziness is really exhaustion caused by chronic anemia, a lack of meaningful sleep or as a side effect from medication. But without knowing our full story, we’ve already been painted in a negative light by some passerby.

I’ve seen photos of people with IBD eating food they know will trigger pain or urgent bowel movements, and had I not been understanding of their situation, I’d assume they really didn’t care about their health. I mean, who willingly harms themselves while claiming they only want to feel better? But the thing is, we sometimes do things that are the opposite of what’s recommended, simply because it keeps our mental health from collapsing. Believe me, anyone who’s ever been on a severely restricted diet (for medical reasons or otherwise) will tell you that “cheat meals” happen. When it happens, simply ENJOY it without beating yourself up. Our self-judgement is often worse than the judgements we get from others.

Judging others

As of late, when I see something that I feel I need to give my opinion on (and this happens often), I try to think about whether that opinion offers positive feedback or contains a hurtful message. The reality is, I don’t know the full story behind someone’s 5 minute YouTube video, and it would be unfair and arrogant to be negative towards someone when I have such a limited perspective without any back story. If I feel that my comments or sarcasm would be hurtful, I still write it out, but I don’t send it. I simply delete it. I find that doing this still tricks the asshole in me into believing that my 2 cents were given, but without causing anyone to be hurt in the process.

If you find yourself being judged by others in a way that’s meant to hurt you, remember that they don’t know your whole story, and chances are they are projecting their own insecurities by trolling others – much like how a child behaves by bullying others, when he or she feels unloved or underappreciated at home.

If you’re overly critical of yourself, take a step back and breath. Nothing good comes from being mean to yourself, and i find that positive motivation works best in the long run.

QUESTION : How to handle judgement towards yourself or others?

Header photo credit: 17/365 ThePointer by Gabe Austin. Flickr CC2.0. Cropped.