5 Things people with chronic Illness wish people would stop saying:
**Before I begin, I want to let everyone know that I love encouragement, helpful or not. This is just a list of things that I think people who want to help those with a chronic illness can say BETTER. I myself have said many of these things to others with the best intentions. I only found out later through my own experience that they were not the most helpful things to say.**
- “Oh, you don’t look sick.”
This statement can be slightly hurtful. It’s said with the best intentions; trying to tell someone that they look great despite it all. Unfortunately, it can come across as dismissive and trivializing to someone struggling. It is a bit like when we tried to convince our parents to let us stay home from school. Although we may not look sick, it can often feel like it is eating us away on the inside.
What to say instead: “You are so strong.” Our strength is constantly being tested with this illness. It can run us ragged and hurt our morale. When someone reaffirms our strength, it is like wind in our tired sails.
- “I understand, I wasn’t able to sleep either last night I’m really tired and hurting too.”
Again, I totally understand the intent behind this phrase. To the person hurting and struggling they hear “If I can do it, so can you. You’re just being lazy and a downer.” The term I understand should not be used even if you too, have an illness. It’s going to be different from person to person. Its apple to oranges in every circumstance.
What to say instead: “I’m sorry you’re going through this.” “I can’t imagine how you must feel.” That validates our feelings. We already are feeling like we didn’t want to share how we truly felt. To have someone respond this way make you the person we know we can trust with how we truly feel.
- “You always say no. Why should I keep asking?”
I believe people with chronic illness wish you knew that they LOVE feeling included. It pains us to say no when we can’t muster the strength. But we still love when you think of us. Please don’t stop asking! It’s not a personal, it hurts not to be able to go as much as desired. We feel guilty without being made to feel guilty. We truly love being included. It can be a lonely sickness, so every ounce of thoughtfulness goes a really long ways.
What to say instead: “If you can’t make it today, don’t worry! We will try again at a better time.” Only say this if you really mean it. Trying at a different time may sound nice but actually doing it means the world. It shows you really do care and are trying to be understanding of the illness.
- “You’re doing WHAT to feel better?”
We may try CRAZY things to make us feel better. Not responding negatively is helpful because chances are we are battling that same thought in our own minds. We are doubting will this work, but constantly wondering, “will this finally be the thing that helps me? I am willing to try anything.”
What to say instead: “I’ve never heard of that before. I’m glad you have found something new to try. I’m praying fervently that this will bring you relief.” To have encouragement to try the crazy things is a blessing to those who are hurting. You can support it and even join in with the craziness too… haha 🙂
- “I don’t know how to help you.” Or “How can I help you?”
We truly respect your time and understand that certain circumstances can be frustrating. Having a friend that sticks with you through these illness are true friends. You may not always know what to say, and that’s okay! Just spending a lazy Saturday can go a long ways.
What to say instead: “I’m coming over with some snacks, wine (if the doctor says its ok) and a movie!” 🙂
If you or anyone you know is battling a chronic illness, I would love to hear from you!
If there is more you would add to this list, message me. I would love your input and thoughts.
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