Boundaries For When People Ask Questions About Your Health

It’s inevitable that when you get sick, you are going to be inundated with questions about your health. Some of these questions you won’t know how to respond to and some may make you feel uncomfortable. 

It can be mentally and emotionally distressing when you first become unwell or injured. There may be trauma involved that may be difficult to relive and it needs to be supported and processed. You are working out how to deal with this new thing that’s disrupted your life. It can quickly become overwhelming when your body isn’t working as it should, you are stressed about the unknown, and then to be bombarded by questions about the condition as if you are an expert – let alone how the condition affects you and the many variables that come with it!  

Just because it is something major that is happening in your life, doesn’t give everyone around you a right to ask about it. We all need to remember that it is generally a common preference to keep medical information private. It seems that when you have a chronic condition or a disability that the privacy is relaxed and any questions people have should be answered.

At times I have been grilled with questions about what happened to me, and the motive for asking those questions has come from a place of wanting to know how it happened and what I did ‘wrong’, and trying to find clues and leads. It is a way of finding out as much information to prevent the same thing occurring to the person who is asking the questions. This is highly insensitive, as most of the time, we have no control over what may happen to us. We can try to prevent it with healthy living and habits, but we are not free of the risk – I talk more about it in the post Why We Should All Be Fighting For Disability Equality and Justice.

Eventually you may feel more comfortable talking about your health with others – either because you’ve had time to process it yourself and you understand it, the entail and emotional shock has worn off. Or it might be because you want others to gain awareness of unknown illnesses and disabilities or assist other people with the knowledge you gain through your experience. Your motivation or level of comfort with talking about your medical conditions will come when you are ready. It shouldn’t be when someone else questions you and believes that they are entitled to a response. It is up to you whether you want to share or maybe you won’t want to share it at all, it’s your choice.

Some boundaries to consider when initially having health issues: 

  • Work out who you do want to tell and how much to share. Close family and friends may get more details, colleagues may get the bare minimum or enough to give context. 
  • Clarify with a trusted person if you feel comfortable with them sharing your information with others or not. In some cases, it may be easier for word to be passed around by a trusted person to a network of people for speed and less repetitiveness of the trauma.
  • Everyone will offer support and help in the early days, some will follow through with it, and then there are people who will be around for the long haul. These groups of people won’t always be the ones you expect to fall into those groups. Adjust your relationships as time goes on and notice who is consistent and there for you in the tough times.

Predetermined answers to respond with if you don’t want to share your health information:

  • I don’t feel comfortable talking about that right now.
  • Thanks for your care and I will share more about it if and when I am ready.  
  • My health and body is not a topic of conversation. Please respect me and let’s talk about something else.
  • I don’t have the energy to talk about it right now, but thank you for your concern and care. Maybe another time? 

Just remember: it’s your choice, you don’t owe anyone explanations and what they think of you is none of your business. Carry on and take care of yourself at this moment. 

Take good care, Readers. I’ll keep the light on.

[Image description: painted mural of a woman with a scarf over her head, with one hand raised to ask a question. The background of the mural is colour patterns and there are two potted trees on either side on the street in front of the mural.]
[Image description: painted mural of a woman with a scarf over her head, with one hand raised to ask a question. The background of the mural is colour patterns and there are two potted trees on either side on the street in front of the mural.]

If you or someone you know is affected and needs support, please contact the following organisations: 

Beyond Blue – 

Lifeline – 

SANE Australia – 

Black Dog Institute – 

RUOK? – 

Headspace – 

Kids Helpline –

MensLine Australia – 

Ending Each Day On A Good Note: My Daily Gratitude Practice

After a long day of trying to keep your head up and survive, it can be hard to remember the good little things that happened during the day. Gratitude becomes a giant exhale for the day. Get the bad stuff out of the way, and let’s focus on the good things and lighten the load.

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