'You look really well!'

Why do people say this? If they say, 'It's nice to see you looking better today,' I can cope with it but when they say, 'You look really well!' I want to slap 'em and say, 'Well you don't know how hard I'm working to achieve the look.'

It happened a couple of days ago and I know the comment was meant to give me a boost so I said, 'Thank you, it's nice to know that.' when what I really wanted to say was, 'I've just started another chest infection, you silly person, so how can I look 'really well'?

I catch sight of myself in the mirror and I see my Gran looking back at me - not even my Mum! I don't look well at all. I don't want to look unwell, but that's the reality of life at the moment so what's with the pointless comments? They other thing is it almost feels as though they are saying, 'You look ok to me so what are you moaning about?'

Forgive me folks - just a feeling a bit fed up with the world today! Three days into the infection - all will seem better tomorrow! Three cheers for antibiotics and prednisilone.

31 Replies

  • I feel the same moyb, I always think " are u trying to make me feel better or more like what's wrong with u then, u look ok to me " 🙄 the best one is when u really make an effort and they say " awww u don't look well today " 😳😋 oh well same sh*t, different day 😂😂😂 hope u feel better soon. Take care xx Sonia xx

  • Hi Moyb,

    This is only my personnel feelings but I know when I'm particularly low, as I am now. Really nothing anybody says to me is going to help, whether it is positive or negative. I've stopped being polite and just say how poorly I feel and let's change the subject.

    What we all really need is to be rid of these horrible lung diseases but until that day comes I'm probably going to be my grumpy old self and woe betide anybody who even looks at me in the wrong way.


  • Oh, Sue! I couldn't have put it better.

  • Sue you are so right and at the end of the day it's the lung desease that's the problem not others who don't understand how it feels. Since I've been diagnosed with IPF in 2011 my personality has changed and l hate the fact that I can't do anything like in the past. So I think of positive things that help me smile or watch my favourite comedy and try not to allow others well meaning words or gesture to make me feel even worse. Nobody knows what the future holds for them.

  • I think we all find this infuriating Moy b. First of all there's the hypocrisy and being patronised by someone saying how well you look, when you know damn well that you look like the back of a bush. But worse, is the passive aggression of the 'but you look so well', meaning ''come on, stop whingeing, you're not that bad'.

    I mentioned this recently on another post. My pet hate is someone ( a friend who I know is well meaning but very irritating) who I speak on the phone with regularly. About two minutes into the conversation she'll say ' your voice is very strong today, you must be much better' or else 'oh, you sound awful today.' Small wonder I'm not mad about telephone conversations. She means really well and is very supportive but this 'voice diagnosis' drives me crazy.

  • Hi billyjean, my late mother always used to comment' your voice sounds stronger today' when we were on the phone, and once when I said my breathing was poor she said that I could shout loud enough.....she was hard of hearing!

    But when I saw my mother she would say' oh you do look ill' which made me feel worse again...so I guess she couldn't win.

    That reminded me of the Stanley Holloway song.

    I am guilty to saying to people that they look well though...I did it twice yesterday.

    Isn't life complicated?

  • I think we often say 'you're looking well' to other people, almost as a courtesy, like 'hello' and 'how are you?' But I would never say to somebody who's obviously ill, that they're looking good. Unless of course it's true and they are looking good. And I definitely wouldn't say it in an accusing tone of voice .... I hope :) Yes, life is very complicated :)

  • Yes, it's the accusing tone that is the hardest. 'What d'you mean you're ill and can't run a marathon before breakfast - you've got a suntan - you look well!' Haha!

  • Hi Moy glad I'm not the only one that sees her Grandma looking back at her! Think people are a bit nervous to say you look well/better/are you ill again. Sigh, good ol preds. Hope you soon feel better xx

  • Get the same 'compliment' all the time MoyB, but I reply.... 'good cos you look like s**t :) ....., 'glad your not my doctor' :)...... or you should have gone to Specsavers. ....They mean well but at a loss what to say and think they are boosting your moral :O but I know how frustrating it is especially when your having bad days :P ... The expressions I hate is 'Chin up it mightn't happen', ... ' you'll feel better tomorrow' or 'worse things happen at sea'....... They just don't understand the discomfort or difficulty your going through :(

    Hope your discomfort eases soon


  • Chin up Plumbob it might never happen :)

    I think what I hate most is my friends leaping up steps and hills and looking back down at me saying 'come on Bev'. Grrrh :x x

  • The thing that bugs me the most is being called 'luv' - 'dear' - 'sweetheart' and such like. I know it's well meant but it's patronising and what's worse is that it reminds me that I'm old and makes it clear that I must look old. On a good day I don't feel anywhere near as old as I am and when I've taken the trouble to dress well and my hairs looking good, this well meant and overfreindly approach does not brighten up my day by one jot. I console myself with the thought that at some point they'll be in my position.

  • A few years ago a very dear friend who was dying of ovarian cancer met her neighbour outside.

    N: "How are you?"

    F: "I've got an infection on the lymph node in my neck."

    N: "Well, you look well and that's the most important thing, isn't it?"

    Two days later I met an acquaintance who asked me how I was.

    M: "Struggling. Very breathless."

    A: "Well, you look well, and that's the most important thing, isn't it?"

    Honestly, they both said exactly the same thing!


    No, actually, it is NOT the most important thing. I'd trade looking haggard, toothless, a hundred and fifty seven with this bloody disease any day.


    When my husband was in hospital after his accident and at a point when we had no idea if he would be a full tetraplegic, a friend bounced across the road: "Been meaning it tell you, Kate, Charles had a cousin who had an accident like your husband and she made a complete recovery. She's absolutely fine now."

    I just did not want to know other people's tales, good outcomes, bad outcomes, I just wanted to be allowed to be us and to deal with it in our own way in our own time. When, after two months, he was slowly tilted up and finally got into a wheel chair. A friend phoned up and I told her the latest development she said: "Kate, that's fantastic. That the best news I've heard all year!" No, it's not good news.

    But, of course, people have no idea what to say. What we can do with these encounters is to learn what NOT to say when we meet people who are going through difficult situations. Which is, of course, not quite the same as knowing what to say.

    Kate xx

  • Wow! What a lot of interesting comments. Well, I'd like you all to know you have made ME feel better! Not as well as I'm supposed to be looking, of course, but definitely better to know others feel the same. I wish none of us had to go through it but we are as we are and wishing probably won't help.

    I do take the point of us understanding what NOT to say and I can put my hand up to having got it wrong in the past. My dad was a wise man. When I was growing up and Mum was having a tantrum over some minor misdemeanour of mine, my brother or my father, Dad used to put his newspaper up in front of his face and peer out of the side and murmer quietly to me, 'Say nothing's the best!' And, of course, he was right then and in some situations it's still good advice now. Bless you Dad XX

  • Yes moyb,I get those responses too. I absolutely hate looking at myself in the mirror unless its shower time - I see a sad ,old,I'll looking person and that's on a day when I feel not too bad lol !!!!!!

  • I see my gran walking past me in shops then realise I'm looking at a mirror! Lol! Thank goodness I always thought she was the best looking Gran in the world!!

  • Know the feeling all too well. I find it's better not to refer to health matters directly. There is often something else you can say, such as how nice their outfit is for instance. Or say "How are you?" Then go "I see" if they tell you. Let them choose the direction of the conversation.

    I never ever tell anyone about people I have known with similar conditions. I get sick and tired of hearing about people's friends, relatives, neighbours and their dog. My husband died of cancer two months ago and you wouldn't believe the tales I've heard.

  • Yes, steering the conversation is something I'm learning to do, but it's taken me time to get used to having to do it. I'm sorry to hear of your husband's death and can only imagine what you've had to listen to. Again it's that thing that people have to fill the silence with something and often a quiet moment of reflection can be the best thing. Bless you for your 'good sense' response here. It's a helpful one.

  • I think people are at loss,no matter what they say we can always find wrong in it,I prefer to put myself in their position,thinking what would I say in the same position and find I'd say exactly the same thing,I believe we should take all these caring comments and use them for our benefit.

    Crazy I know but that's just me.

    Gets me thru the day.

  • Good advice! There's no right thing to say really, is there?

  • Yes I agree K. People do care and they are trying their best to show it. Is it better if it becomes 'The elephant in the room?' x

  • Good point!

  • Hi since I was diagnosed with COPD back in March of this year I've had 13 chest infections , I have put on 3stone in weight because of all the steroids I've been on , to this day I feel like crap and I'm still off work , my colleges don't seem to understand how ill I feel with not being able to breath and enjoy life as I did but I try my best to keep my chin up and be happy , but I get so annoyed when they say to me " your looking really well when are you coming back to work as you have been off for a long time , sure your not putting it all on ". If I could walk 20 meters with out getting out of breath and having no pain and wanting to collapse then yeh I would be there like a shot . WHAT people can't see they can't understand and cannot comprehend what your going through . I wouldn't wish this on anyone not even my worst enemy but sometimes I think that if others were in our shoes just for a day and then they might realise how we feel and how low and depressing life can feel when you have trouble walking, breathing , eating , sleeping , basically haveing to adjust your life to live , But we all learn to cope with it ,And we all wish to feel as well as we look then life would be just great . Sorry for the rant xxxxx

  • Rant away! I completely get where you're coming from! I know everyone wants to try and be positive but sometimes their comments make you feel worse - as though you should somehow be able to get back to normal.

    I'm so glad to be retired so no pressure of returning to work. I really don't think I could as have 'no go' days when I don't have the energy to even shower and 'nearly no go' days when I can shower but not wash my hair. It seems ridiculous but that's how it gets me and I'm finding I plan my life around the infections!

    I hope you get on top of your infections somehow.

    xx Moy

  • I totally understand the" no go days" I'm having one at the moment , the no washing of hair , mine was down my back and really thick and I just didn't have the energy to wash and dry it all the time so I've ended up having it all cut short. I don't know if I will be returning to work or not yet , but I would like to think that I can get on top of this , well we can all dream ,can't we , take care xxxx

  • That is so true unless someone is going through the same things as you they don't understand. I realy don't bother about what other people say. Just live my life the best I can.

  • When I was first diagnosed with this I got really upset by what people thought and said (not to my face mind you ) but as time has passed I've just thought to my self , what ever if you want to be ignorant and not even learn to understand what others are going through then that's your problem , I'm going to get on with what I have left of my life and enjoy it .

  • I have suffered from asthma all my life. Not long after I got married I had a very bad attack which lasted months and eventually I was hospitalised for 3 weeks, given different inhalers and eventually went back to work. I had numerous problems in the first year on the new medication and once on a day off was out shopping and felt really breathless and had to call my husband from work to take me home - I couldn't drive at the time and no way I could walk up the steep hills back to our home. Within a couple of days I was well and back at work. That first evening I walked the short level walk from my office to my husbands and ran up the stairs to a shout of " nothing wrong with you then". I asked my husband to tell the person concerned that that was what asthma was like. Quite often you can feel like you are gasping your last one day and be OK the next. I am happy to say the person came and apologised the next time he saw me and said it was only a joke. I understand that sometimes people don't understand in which case we should explain and sometimes people just don't think. I also like it when people say things could be worse. My stock answer to that is it could be so much better too. I think anyone who had a chronic illness knows it could be worse and really when we are poorly do not need to be reminded of that.

  • Yep! 'It could be worse' creases me up! It goes alongside, 'A lot of people have even worse things to deal with.' So if they break and arm and someone else breaks two, do they feel lucky or still fed up with one broken arm? I wonder!

  • Exactly! We know it could be worse! Whenever I feel down I think of my poor niece and her family who have a little 3 year old with type 1 Spinal Muscular Atrophy. They were told when he was 5 months that he would not live until 2. However it has meant both parents having to give up their careers to be constantly with him as he needs 24 hour care, is fed through a tube and constantly on oxygen. He has a little brother who is 2 this year who thankfully does not have SMA who soon will be wondering why his big brother can't walk and run with him and play ball. To me it doesn't get much worse than that.

  • What annoys me the most is people saying to me 'There are loads of jobs if you want them', therefore implying I am lazy. Even my dad used to say that. I then went through the 2 pages of big job adverts with him saying - 'Oh I think I will be a chef in Exeter', or how about an engineer in Taunton'? Occasionally there was one I could apply for but not often. Then there would be 100's of other applicants.....

    I always think it's strange that I was regarded as hard working and industrious when I lived in London coz I was always in work, but somehow have become lazy and a scrounger when I moved to a little seaside place with few jobs and even fewer I can physically do. I guess age and some disability has nothing to do with it either! Thank goodness I can now say at 62 that I am retired. x

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