If You Don't Know How to Support Your Chronically Ill Friend

While I’ve spent years struggling with chronic illness, it has taken a toll on me and my family. When I was struggling and at my wits end, they were the ones watching not knowing what to do. As of now, my illnesses are better controlled and I am much better than before, and capable of writing this. I would like to list a few ways that you can support those around you, who may be going through the same thing. I think one of the most painful things in the world is to watch another struggle and not know what to do.

1. Listen. Actually hear us. And that does not mean you need to give advice. Sometimes we just need an ear to vent to, and even though you may not understand, it means the world to have someone sit beside you and try to anyway. (This one may be simple, yet the most important.)

2. When we ask you to do something, please help. It takes a lot for us to ask for help. Sometimes we still believe we should be able to do these things, and it’s a vicious cycle. So please, when we ask for help, help us.

3. You can also help us in ways that aren’t asked. It varies from person to person, but going above and beyond what is asked can be so incredibly helpful.

4. Learn and educate yourself on our conditions. Know what triggers us, know what helps. Learn.

5. Don’t ever pressure us when we are struggling. It is one of the most hurtful things you can do and only worsens the situation.

6. Try to keep things stress free, and that also includes you. You can’t help someone else if you aren’t caring for yourself. Take care of yourself and help where you can. Let us help you by us talking over your needs. Some people don’t understand that we may be sick, but we still want to be there for you in the ways we can. And that requires a conversation, and an understanding.

7. Let us grieve. There are going to be periods where we become sad and grieve what used to be. Don’t try to get in between us and the grief, it is a battle we must face.

8. Be involved. Even if we cancel on you constantly, keep trying. We mean no offence, we just honestly did not have the spoons that day. But we would still love to see you.

9. Offer small gifts that may be of use to our health or to our happiness. The little things matter.

10. Don’t ever belittle or judge. Even if you don’t understand, just know we are struggling. We need you now more than ever.

Getty Image by Wavebreakmedia

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

Related to Chronic Illness

woman lying in bed looking at her phone

The Dilemmas You Face When Calling in Sick to Work

I often find myself in the curious predicament of deciding whether or not I should go to work. I wake up and feel less than stellar, my body is exhausted, my pain is high, but I feel the ever-present push to always be at work, always be performing and always trying to do everything. It [...]
Image of Trump signing right to try bill. He is surrounded by children and adults with terminal illnesses and disabilities.

President Trump Signs 'Right to Try' Legislation Allowing Patients Access To Unapproved Drugs

On Wednesday, President Trump signed a bill giving patients with terminal illnesses access to experimental drugs not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act of 2017, known as the “right to try” bill, was passed by Congress last week, receiving widespread [...]
A picture of the write looking at her reflection in the mirror.

Why Separating Your Illness and Your Identity Can Be So Hard

I was listening to a podcast where I was asked the question, “Is there a ‘who you were pre-illness,’ to a ‘who you are now’? Have your interests changed? Do you still want the same things in life?” My answer was easy. No, I am not who I am pre-illness. No, I no longer want [...]
A picture of wooden pews in a church.

How the Church Can Respond to Those With Chronic Illness

How does the church respond to members of the body who live with chronic illness or disability? How could it respond? It’s a hard question to answer. It is hard for anyone to know how to deal with chronic situations – which by definition are not going to go away, and which may or may not get better. [...]