I’ve learned how to handle unsolicited advice on my Cushing’s

Though these self-appointed counselors may mean well, their words can hurt

Noura Costany avatar

by Noura Costany |

Share this article:

Share article via email
An illustration depicting a person with curly hair writing at a desk, with papers whirling in the air, as the banner image of

I’ve been there a thousand times. Since I’m open about my illness online, people are acutely aware that I’m sick with cyclic Cushing’s disease. When I haven’t seen someone for a long time, they cock their head at me, their eyes fill with pity, and they ask in a sad voice, “How are you feeling?”

God, it’s a complex question. I could say I’m in therapy because the stress of my illness is too overwhelming to manage on my own. I might bring up that since increasing some of my medications, I’ve become a bit paranoid. If I’m feeling extra bold, I could bring up how this week I’ve had to take several naps just to get through the day.

Instead, I always respond by saying, “I’m doing OK!”

Sometimes, that’s where the conversation ends. I can swallow any worries that I have and enjoy the rest of the conversation. Other times, however, the person I’m talking to has advice for me.

Recommended Reading
This is an illustration of a person's head, viewed from the side so it is easy to see the transparent image of the brain.

Pituitary surgery cures a third of Cushing’s disease patients: Study

Unsolicited advice

Unsolicited advice is one of the most frustrating things I experience as a chronically ill person. I’ve been offered guidance that ranges from “You should spend more time in the sun” to “Stop using your mobility aids” to “You’re probably causing your own tumors.”

I try to remind myself that most unsolicited advice comes from a place of love. People in my life are still learning how to be around someone who’s chronically ill. They want to see me at my best and share methods that have helped them feel better. Some unsolicited advice, however, is just plain insulting.

Learning how to combat unsolicited advice is one of the skills I’ve really mastered since being diagnosed with Cushing’s disease. I use an approach my therapist recommended to me called the sandwich method.

The sandwich method

Here’s the makings of this particular “sandwich”:

Bread: a compliment
Meat: a rebuttal
Bread: a positive statement

As an example, let’s say somebody tells me that I’m taking too much medication, which is advice I’ve gotten before. I can answer that with, “I really appreciate your perspective. All of my medications are monitored by several doctors, and I have bloodwork every three months. That being said, if you have any additional supplements or meals you recommend, I’d love to hear them!”

This reply leaves the person feeling valued, it pivots away from advice on my illness, and I might even get a new recipe out of it. Everybody wins!

I also think it’s important to be honest with the people closest to you. If I get continued unsolicited advice, I always make sure to tell the adviser that it hurts my feelings. I reiterate that I have an amazing team and let them know that while I appreciate their guidance, I don’t always need it.

Standing up for yourself can be tough, especially when you’re constantly hearing the thoughts of those around you. Setting those boundaries can be incredibly freeing, however. Give it a shot, and let me know how it goes.

How do you handle unsolicited advice? Let me know in the comments. You can also follow my journey on TikTok and YouTube.

Note: Cushing’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cushing’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Cushing’s.


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.