Punk Rock HR Blog Lessons: Don't Talk About Your Health Problems


I wasn’t feeling well, earlier this summer, and I blogged about it.

My clinical diagnosis was ‘tummy troubs’. Yes, I’m in fourth grade.

I really appreciate the comments on my blog, but as I navigated through the real world, I quickly discovered that no one wanted to hear about my tummy trouble. I got some feedback from a friend that talking about health is like talking about your dreams.

  • It’s boring,
  • it is impossible for people to understand and share the experience,
  • and once you talk about diarrhea and acid reflux, there’s nowhere to go in a conversation.

In other words, talking about health problems can be perceived as a very selfish act.

Another thing I learned? Many of the people who wanted to talk about my problems were hypochondriacs who wanted to one-up me and talk about their own problems.

You have tummy trouble? I have mesothelioma.

Cheese and rice, people. It’s not a competition.

The other weird thing I discovered is that people who are very sick — cancer in the bones, debilitating arthritis, heart disease, cystic fibrosis — don’t work their illnesses into everyday conversation. Many of them approach life from a hermeneutic of wellness. Instead of taking every opportunity to outline a litany of medical tests and prescription drugs, they cherish the opportunity to go to the office, take stupid meetings, and talk about celebrity gossip.

So here’s what I learned: health issues shouldn’t be minimized, but it’s important to realize that it’s the least interesting among us who hijack a conversation and talk about health.

I’m no Debbie Downer and neither are you. Let’s take some Tums and get on with the business of life.

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