When Staying in Bed Is Not a 'Break'


One of the worst phrases I have ever heard about my illness is, “It must be nice to stay in bed all day.” I know this is something someone probably says in passing after they had a long day. It is a phrase that makes sense to someone who always recovers from their sickness – be it a cold, pneumonia or the flu. For most healthy people, sickness brings a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of life. They get to enjoy a day of Netflix and laying in bed.

For someone whose chronic illness causes them to rest a majority of the time during a flare or even indefinitely, laying in bed is not nice. It sucks. If I am forced to stay in bed all day, it is typically because I am in an immense amount of pain or my body is so fatigued I can’t even walk five feet. On those days, all I want to do is get up and go somewhere or do something. I’d like to be in school. I’d like to go to the track and walk a couple of laps. I would love to be hanging out with my friends. But I can’t. I physically cannot. Staying in bed is not a break. The days when I have the energy and wellness to get out and about are days of reprieve for me. It’s the opposite of what a healthy person may feel.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do not believe this phrase is said out of malice. Some healthy people truly believe those with chronic illness have a nice excuse to get out of real life. They don’t realize most of us would give anything to be able to go to school full-time, work or live a normal life. There are some days when I do get to lay in bed that feel like a break, but most of the time when I’m tied to the bed I’m having a worse day than when I can go out.

If we have to cancel plans, please don’t say this. As an alternative you could say, “I’m sorry you have to miss (activity) because of your illness again. I know it is hard for you.” Words can have such an effect on people. Switching these two phrases could mean the difference between someone mentally feeling OK despite their physical health and someone beating themself up because they feel like they messed up. I can’t control my health. Believe me; I’ve tried. But a saying such as, “Wow, it must be nice to stay in bed all day,” carries much more weight than you could ever imagine. It makes me feel as if I’m choosing this life or I am to blame for it. Neither of those things are true.

All in all, be kind.

All the love and spoons,

Morgan

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Chronic Illness

illustration of woman's eyes and dark hair

5 Reasons People May Not Talk About Their Chronic Illness

Getting sick is normal. Everyone catches the occasional cold or virus and eventually recovers, but being chronically ill is different. It’s like one day you caught the flu and never recovered. After a while, it becomes difficult to talk about: either you feel ashamed because you may not be the same person anymore, or you [...]
woman with her head in her hands

What Chronic Fatigue Really Feels Like

Chronic fatigue is one of the hardest things for a healthy, energetic and normal person to understand, so how best to describe how it actually feels? Perhaps the most effective way would be to compare it to some more relatable everyday scenarios. So here it goes: Imagine you’re midway through an atrocious bout of the flu. No, not [...]
Woman sleeping in bed, high angle view

What Sleeping Is Like When You Have a Chronic Health Condition

For people battling chronic disease, sleep is a complicated thing. On one hand, we often don’t get much of it on an average basis. Or, at least, not quality sleep. On the other hand, there are folks with conditions like depression, or those on medications that cause drowsiness, who sleep a lot. Our relationship with sleep [...]
Kaitlyn standing outside in front of trees with duct tape over her mouth and binding her hands together

'Losing Yourself' After a Chronic Illness Diagnosis

You walked into the doctor and heard the words you will always remember: “You have *insert rare condition*.” In an instant your world turned upside down. You were happy for answers, yet you simultaneously knew your life would never be the same. Unfortunately, it never will be. One of the biggest aspects of a new diagnosis is [...]