29 Women On What They Wish People Understood About Their Chronic Illnesses

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Women with chronic illnesses are a misunderstood group. After months or years of dealing with doctors who don't believe them, they often continue facing doubt and dismissiveness from their own friends and family. Many people don't understand the constant challenges of living with a chronic illness, and women especially often have to fight for people to take their illnesses seriously.

"Unknowingly, our loved ones and friends infantilize us and make us feel like infants incapable of handling our lives... and, in reality, they don't know what our health issues and pain do to us," Kirsten Schultz, founder of Chronic Sex, tells Bustle. "While not a lot on their own, as singular comments, these microaggressions add up. Messages that portray people with a chronic illness or disability as pitiful or evil pervade society from movies to the news and more. Sadly, the stress and frustration from encountering these ideas everywhere we look can worsen our physical and mental health. It's a large part of why we may get frustrated more easily or snap back at a well-meaning suggestion."

So that people can better support those with chronic illnesses, I asked 29 women with chronic illnesses what they wish those around them understood. Here's what they said.