Why 'Get Well Soon' Can Be Hurtful to Hear

Whenever someone is poorly, everyone always says, “Get well soon!” We have all done it and a lot of us will continue to say it as we believe it to be a polite and empathetic phrase. Right? Wrong. If someone you know is bogged down with the flu, then “Get well soon” is perfect. However, if you tell a person who is ill with a chronic illness (or multiple) to “get well soon,” it’s like our noses are being rubbed in it. As a chronically ill person with joint hypermobility syndrome, hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, anxiety, depression and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), being told to “get well soon” is a heart-breaking reminder that I will never, ever get better.

Being chronically ill means that the illness/condition/disability is long-lasting, therefore it will not go away. Therefore, people who are chronically ill will not necessarily get better. Yes, we may have days where our symptoms may be manageable for us. For example, we may be able to stand up and make a coffee without leaning against something to keep our balance, go us! That is a manageable five minutes to us, even though it’s probably a small thing to you.

I am often told, “Oh you don’t look sick!” and “You look tired, but get an early night” or “Take it easy and you’ll be fine.” No, no, no and no. Trying to help people understand the debilitating factors of an invisible illness is exceptionally hard. I can’t and won’t make you understand as you can’t, you’re not me. All I can do is let you know my concerns, pains and so forth. But, if I have already made you aware of my illnesses and you still continue to tell me to go to sleep (I can’t, and if I do, I still wake up feeling like I have been awake for three or more days straight), or to get well soon, it makes me feel brushed under the carpet and very unimportant.

Everyone has frustrations and day-to-day issues. I get that, but please don’t undermine our issues and illnesses by treating them like something that will go away. It won’t. We battle with our illnesses every single hour of every single day, 365 days a year. When exactly am I meant to “get well soon?”

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Thinkstock photo by Marjan_Apostolovic

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