Chronic Life Tips: How To Explain Your Autoimmune Disease To Everybody Else

Nosy neighbors are infamous in TV and movies. They peek through their curtains or peer over fences to insert themselves into what’s going on with their neighbors. One of the best nosy neighbors of all-time has to be Kimmy Gibbler from Full House. Remember how she’d burst into the Tanner home and ask whatever questions she felt like? If only these kinds of people were fictional, right? But unfortunately, we will all be asked nosy questions by nosy people about our autoimmune disease if we haven’t already.

We all have people in our lives who just live for gossip and information. They’re always fishing. They ask you questions about your autoimmune condition or symptoms or the general “How are you feeling?” question that you don’t want to answer. They can even make comments about your chronic life that are downright rude and insensitive. These kinds of people also tend to have a difficult time digesting what an autoimmune disease is, which can make them even nosier out of pure ignorance.

It’s not always easy to talk about your health, and many of us simply don’t want to have to explain it to every person we come into contact with. We all want privacy, but we also want support – it’s just hard to know what you’re going to get, unless you really know the person who’s asking well. With that in mind, below are some well-worn tips to answer nosy questions and talk to people you don’t really want to… all without losing your sanity.

So here are some approaches to explain your autoimmune condition, and what others can expect:

1. You can explain your situation using humor or sarcasm.

Autoimmune health challenges are no laughing matter. However, you may want to make light of such a complicated and painful situation with some humor. One great reason to use humor in your explanation about your disease is that it doesn’t allow people to know just how painful your situation may be, and can be an effective way to shut down conversations you don’t want to have. This is why humor is an excellent method to use if you’re discussing your situation with someone with whom you really don’t want explain your entire life stresses.

2. You can personify your doctor and make everything sound extremely complicated and clinical.

Oftentimes, when someone you know asks you about your disease, they don’t want to be overwhelmed with doctor talk. One great way to explain your situation and get back at them for being nosy is to explain everything in the most complicated way possible. Many people will easily become overwhelmed and stop even trying to comprehend what you’re going through. However, this can also backfire with ultra nosy people, who may in turn ask you more and more questions in an effort to understand.

3. You can turn the conversation back on them and avoid answers all together.

Most people who ask a lot of questions just want to have a conversation with someone. If you really don’t want to talk to this person about your autoimmune disease, you can always give a quick answer and then ask them about their life. These kinds of people will most likely be flattered that you’re interested in their lives and will forget about your issues right away. Only a few adamant people may keep pushing the conversation back on you.

4. You can be honest and hope they’ll get the point.

If you’re a genuinely good person or you want to take a chance on getting a supportive response, you may give this person what they’re looking for. You can explain your situation to them in the fullest and nicest way possible. This will hopefully give the nosy person in your life exactly what she or he is looking for and allow him/her to move on with their day.

If you’re feeling bold, you can tell him or her that you just want to hear the words “I’m with you” or “You’re not alone”, and not “I feel so sorry for you” or “Your life sounds so terrible” or something equally and completely off. Hopefully this method will also be able to allow you some privacy, now that this person is satisfied and full of information about your life — and who knows, maybe you’ll finally get an appropriate response the next time.

While you may not have a Kimmy Gibbler constantly bursting into your kitchen and asking questions, you will need to be prepared to explain what your autoimmune disease is to your acquaintances. Sometimes you’ll just have to think to yourself, “How rude!” Then, you’ll move on. Because we all know that the worst part of a chronic life is never your nosy neighbors. And sometimes that’s really a shame.


About the Author
Katie Cleary is founder of  She lives with her autoimmune conditions and her family in Austin, Texas.

This post contains opinions of the author. is not a medical practice and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  It is your responsibility to seek diagnosis, treatment, and advice from qualified providers based on your condition and particular circumstances.  Camino Real Ventures, Inc., the company that makes available to you, does not endorse nor recommend any products, practices, treatment methods, tests, physicians, service providers, procedures, clinical trials, opinions or information available on this website.  Your use of the website is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy


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