10 Ways My Amazing Support System Helps Me Through Illness
I am extremely blessed to have an enormous support system from my significant other’s family. I’m not just talking about his immediate family, I’m talking about his extended family, of which there are many.
So, what is it that makes them so supportive? What exactly are they doing to make me feel so loved, safe, cared about, respected and supported?
I’m sharing this to help others put words to what they need from their support system and to help give concrete ways to healthy people who want to support someone in their life who is chronically ill. What supports me could be different than what will support someone else, but this is a good starting point.
1. They are incredibly good at acknowledging my health issues but also acknowledging I’m so much more than that. They see me as a whole person. They aren’t defining me in their minds as a sick person.
2. They quietly and lovingly work around my needs. For example, I’m allergic to certain foods, so they make me certain dishes, minus the allergen, so I can eat the same type of meal with everyone else. They never act like it’s a pain. I never asked or expected them to go to such trouble and I deeply appreciate it.
3. They visit me in the hospital. They celebrate my tiny health achievements, and recognize they are huge achievements for me. They truly care. I had been so sick and weak before I went into the hospital for two weeks, and when his family came to visit and saw me walking, they exclaimed with true joy and relief. And I saw tears in their eyes. They care when I’m not doing well and show obvious happiness when I’m doing better.
4. They notice my very subtle signs of when I’m really not feeling well. A lifetime of illness has made me a pro at hiding it, but they see it. They offer me a chair, or other things to help, when they see those little signals.
5. They don’t consistently, only, talk about my health. I find that some people struggle with talking to people if they don’t work. Conversations are often centered around work. Since I don’t work, people often start to talk about my health instead. Which is OK, but it’s nice to have people who get to know me enough that there are additional things to talk about. My health is the least interesting thing about me and it’s not the main topic of conversation when I’m with his family.
6. They’ve always been there when we’ve needed help. Always. There’s such a sense of safety, love and security when you know if you ever need anything, you can ask and they will be there. No hesitation. No judgment.
7. They’ve embraced me as part of the family. I’m included in everything, they rejoice when seeing me and they also understand and never get upset or hurt when I’m too sick to go to something or have to cancel plans.
8. They notice every detail. They know what my favorite colors are, they know what my passions are and they know who I am as a person.
9. They never make me feel defective or not good enough for my significant other. They don’t hold my chronic illness against me. They never make me feel inferior. They never judge me for being unable to work. They accept me as I am and love me no matter what.
10. They never pry about my medications or the choices I make about my health. They don’t try to bombard me with things they think I should be doing. They respect that these are decisions made by me and my doctors and they never try to convince me that my choices are wrong.
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Thinkstock photo via Roz Woodward.