I came across an article on BuzzFeed today. It’s called “18 things you can do when a person you love is facing a scary diagnosis.” It’s HERE if anyone would like to read it. I really loved it, because one of the big problems I’ve found since being ill is that people really don’t know what to say or how to treat you.
I thought I would combine that list with a few of my own to make it more relevant to people specifically with chronic illness’s.
So here are 9 things you can do to support a loved one with a chronic illness:
1. When I’m feeling scared, let me be scared. One thing that I find incredible frustrating is when I’m trying to tell someone that I’m feeling very depressed, or I need a shoulder to cry on, and they shrug it off by saying “you’ll be better in no time, don’t worry!”.
We both know thats not true, stop saying it. Just hold my hand and listen, thats all I need.
2. Sending little texts or messages really does make a huge difference. I may not be able to reply for a while, but don’t take that to mean I don’t appreciate it. I really do.
Having a text from a friend can make my day.
3. A sense of normality is wonderful. When I am able to socialise I am not going to want to talk about my illness all the time, I have enough time alone thinking about it. It’s fine to ask me how I’m doing, but what I really want to talk about regular stuff like how you are doing at university, what you’ve been up to, or any gossip you have. I relish any news of the outside world! haha
4. I love it when people know and understand my illness properly, it makes me feel less alone. So do some research, it’ll probably take you less than 5 minutes to find out roughly whats wrong with me.
5. If I cancel plans it has nothing to do with you, absolutely zero. It is not because I don’t want to see you, it is not because I can’t be bothered, it is not because I’m annoyed at you. It’s simply because I am too ill that day. But please please please keep asking! One of these days I will be able to go!
6. I spend a lot of my day reading books, watching TV shows and films, and listening to audiobooks, because thats all I have the energy to do. If you want to do something for me suggesting or lending me good ones is a great idea, it shows that you’re thinking of me in some small way, and that’s lovely.
7. If you want to help thats amazing, but offer specifics such as giving lifts to hospital or doctors appointments, as opposed to “if you ever need anything just ask.” That’s all very lovely, but asking for help can be difficult especially if the person is used to being independent. I know I always hate to feel like I’m a burden on people.
8. Many chronic illness’s come with stigma attached to them. Don’t give in to the stigma. Don’t believe everything you read in the mainstream media, because 99% of it is completely wrong. Don’t tell us to “try a bit harder”, don’t tell us to “snap out of it”. If you do you will swiftly be shown the door.
9. You don’t have to be perfect, just be present. This is by far my favourite and most important one. Please don’t do a disappearing act. I am ill, and scared about what the future holds, I need my friends more than ever before. I know lots of people are worried about saying the wrong thing, so they don’t say anything at all, but thats worse! I say again, you don’t have to be perfect, just be present.
If anyone has any other ideas, feel free to leave them in the comments.
Until next time. Rhosyn.