Hypermobility suffers will probably be able to guess exactly where I’m going with this. It’s the same, every time I mention I have the condition. As soon as you utter the words “I suffer from hypermobility” you must brace yourself for the onslaught of stupid questions or misguided (and unsolicited advice).
Possibly the most common response I get is “so does that mean you can do the splits?”. No. Hypermobility in some people allows them to be more flexible in the traditional sense and that’s great, but for a lot of us all it does is cause joint pain, subluxation and dislocation. Sure my wrists and fingers do weird things and I can comfortably “W-sit” as an adult but chances are that if I’ve brought up my hypermobility it’s because I’m struggling with it and not because I want 20 questions about whether or not it gives me superpowers. Just don’t go there.
Another “favourite” is “at least you are going to the gym”. Wait, what? Thank you able-bodied white man [because this one is nearly always them] for that great insight. For people with normal, healthy joints, if they experience weakness/give in or around a joint, it’s possible that all they need to do is strengthen the muscle around the joint and it will fix the problem. Unfortunately hypermobility is not just going to disappear. Yes, strength can improve it or help to manage it but for me this is as good as it gets. I haven’t fallen for a while, *touch wood* and my shoulder that subluxes or “clunks” is sitting relatively in place most of the time but my legs have started overextending, my hip sometimes slips out of joint while I walk, I’m struggling to go heavier on bench press because although I have the strength in my arms, chest and shoulders the weight pushes my wrist back too much. Hypermobility may lead to a few interesting party tricks but it can also be debilitating. Have some respect and understand that someone with the condition knows their body better than you do.
“My [insert relation here] has that and they just ran the London Marathon.” Ummmm congratulations?! This is probably the one I struggle with the most. I don’t run, in part because of my joints, and in part because I have no desire to do so. I’ve always been told that with my knees being the way they are running is increased risk (I have had some very bad joint related falls while running in childhood and when I was struggling with an eating disorder) and if I can avoid it then that’s for the best. If I REALLY wanted to take up running, with a carefully managed programme and physio and taping etc I maybe could manage it but I would rather just protect my joints. So when you supply this snippet of information what are you trying to say? You don’t believe me? You think that regardless of what I know is best for me and my physical and mental health you or your relative knows better? You think I’m lazy? Or that I should be inspired by your relative? Thanks but no thanks. I’ll just be over here doing what works for ME.
It could be worse right? “At least you don’t have X”. I’m sorry, I didn’t realise ill health and disabilities were a competition. I understand looking on the bright side and the fact that approaching things with a positive outlook leads to improved health outcomes. Really, I do. But sometimes you just want to have a moan about something that you’re dealing with. Sometime I get frustrated with my joints, I want to do more than I can manage. And yes, I’m grateful that I don’t have more serious things going on but don’t take away from my real, lived experience with your glass half full platitudes.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve had any experiences like this with hypermobility or other health conditions.