Dear Abby: I’m losing patience with friends, family and others who comment on my invisible illness

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DEAR ABBY: I am struggling with an invisible illness and losing patience with friends, family and acquaintances. I’m working with doctors to manage my conditions, and I’m tired of all the suggestions and seemingly positive comments I’m hearing, like, “You can do it; just put your mind to it!”

I am seeing a therapist to help with the emotional stress, and even they are trying to armchair diagnose me and question my knowledge of specific vitamins, probiotics and treatments. Some of these folks mean well, but others I suspect are strongly hinting that I’m making it all up.

I’m not even sure what my question is. A polite way to shut people down would be helpful. Please make your readers aware that not every illness is visible. — STRUGGLING IN THE EAST

DEAR STRUGGLING: If you no longer trust your therapist, it’s time to change therapists. A lingering illness can be frustrating and exhausting, and you clearly need someone to vent to about the daily frustrations you are encountering.

The problem many people with hidden illnesses face is one that often happens while using a parking place designated for disabled individuals. If you are questioned about your disability, all you need to say is not all disabilities are visible. Then show them the disabled parking placard from your doctor. As to those well-meaning folks who offer you these pep talks, be polite. Say “thank you” and change the subject.


DEAR ABBY: When a couple becomes engaged, is it customary or permissible for both parties to wear engagement rings? — JAMES IN GEORGIA

DEAR JAMES: It isn’t common, but if you and your intended would like to do that, no rule says you can’t. The choice is yours. Go for it.



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Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)


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