Overcoming My Fear of Being Judged

Jen Cueva avatar

by Jen Cueva |

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A while back, I posted in the PH News Forums about my fear of judgment. I wrote about living with PH and feeling like I am being judged.

At times, I feel like a reality star. I picture the TMZ crew and paparazzi following me around. In reality, I am far from a reality star, mostly because I am not paid like they are, hehe. But I do find that people tend to pass judgment on me and my social media posts.

Those of us with chronic illness and our caregivers are often under scrutiny, most frequently from family, friends, colleagues, and healthcare providers. Ironically, they are the ones you would think less likely to pass judgment. Don’t we have enough to deal with already?

Because most people judge by appearance, they assume we’re lazy when we rest or are less productive. On the other hand, we are “fine” if we smile. More often than not, our smiles cover chronic pain.

I sometimes ask my family not to share pictures or tag me on social media. Enjoying my life while being judged is a struggle some days. Yes, I have pulmonary hypertension (PH). I am still human and deserve to have some fun, too. Others may disagree, and that is OK. It is not their life, and we can agree to disagree.

Despite what I do, I am judged by someone, right? Sadly, social media posts often lead to judgmental comments. This judgment can cause stress, anxiety, and depression.

But I am starting to feel less guilty when I make choices I think are best, such as parking in an accessible parking spot, enjoying a drink, or going out to dinner. It can also be as simple as not doing what others think you should be doing. This discussion in the PH forums was a hot topic that many found relatable.

My husband, Manny, was off last Thursday and wanted a burger and a brew. I occasionally crave a tasty burger, so we ate at one of our favorite burger joints. Tookie’s is my kind of place. The burgers are flavorful, and the waterfront restaurant offers great views. The water adds that extra ambiance I enjoy. We sat on the patio across from the sailboats. Only one other couple was outside, so we pretty much had it to ourselves.

Jen and her husband, Manny, enjoy a lunch date at Tookie’s. (Courtesy of Jen Cueva)

If you find yourself in Kemah, Texas, stop in. My favorite appetizer is the pelican eggs, and for burgers, I like the #99 and the Squealer. The burgers are large enough to share if you’re not a big eater, like me. Apologies, y’all, we were hungry because this was a late lunch, so no picture of the food. The place was clean and following precautions.

Now, with my bucketful of medications, I usually only have a few sips of my husband’s beer. Other times, I stick to one or two drinks, depending on how I feel that day. But when I post my drinks on social media, some people comment that I should not drink.

Despite how hard we try, we all experience judgment at one time or another. It’s a no-win situation. My solution, while it may sound a bit harsh, is to live my life as I choose. I am never healthy because of my PH and coexisting illnesses, but some days are better than others.

I also try to educate others who tend to make assumptions and judgments. Yet, other times, it just isn’t worth my time or energy. If they have not dealt with chronic illnesses, they may never “get it.” Reminding myself that I am enough and am doing my best is what’s important, and it helps to decrease the guilt.

We cannot change the behavior of others, but we can change how we react to these judgments. While this is true, I try my hardest to offer grace and let it go. We never know when someone is fighting battles we may not see. Think before judging others. We all do this at times, though perhaps unintentionally. Let’s build others up instead of breaking them down.

The next time you find yourself passing judgment, try offering empathy and kindness instead. With the current challenges in our world, we all could use some compassion. You can start with self-compassion.

Do you feel that others judge you more because of your PH? Does this lead to guilt and depression? Would you behave differently if you thought you were not being judged? Please share your comments below. 


Note: Pulmonary Hypertension 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 Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


Manuel Cueva avatar

Manuel Cueva

FTH You do you and don’t worry about the rest that live in their little bubbles of such perfect little lives where the heavy traffic brings their life’s to a standstill or a simple flu is the end of the world.

Jen Cueva avatar

Jen Cueva

Thanks, Boo,
I appreciate you more than you'll ever know.


Sally Hoffman avatar

Sally Hoffman

Hi Jen, Are you aware of all the people who "judge" you as brave, beautiful, intelligent, and oh so very compassionate. Think of the people who dare to judge you and worse tell it to you as rude. You do not owe them an explanation for doing whatever you want. I have one friend who tells me I am too thin. I think to myself "you are looking at me out of fat eyes" I stopped having dinner with someone who always commented on what I ate. I finally realized that whenever I turned down a dessert that was free with my meal, the comment that I should take it because it was free was really only because they wanted it. You know better than to allow others to cause you to wrongly judge yourself.

Jen Cueva avatar

Jen Cueva

Thank you, Sally,
These are such kind words that you offer. I am grateful that I have met you and the others who continue to inspire me daily. I am sorry to hear that your friend judges you so much. This can be so upsetting and nothing that we need or should have to deal with. Yes, I need to remind myself not to allow others' judgments to dampen my spirits. Thanks so much; your words mean more than you know.



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