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Hearing 'If You Need Anything, I'm Here' as Someone With Chronic Illness

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When living with any illness, it’s common to hear friends and others close to you say, “If you need anything, I’m here.” But are they really there when I need them most? I see on social media they are always setting time out of their schedules to attend a wedding, a bachelorette party, a barbecue, a baby shower or any celebration. Yet, they don’t take time to visit me when I am sick. Not sick in the hospital, but when I’m at home, laying on the couch in too much pain to move and with barely any energy to do things for myself. Maybe they don’t consider this “sick” because I don’t have the flu, the stomach virus, or anything they commonly think of when someone says “I’m home sick.” When I go into the hospital, that seems to spark interest. But my condition isn’t one where I am constantly hospitalized. Just because I am not in the hospital frequently does not mean that I am not suffering.

It’s surprising to me how many people have said the words, “I’m always here if you need anything,” to me, but very few follow through. I see them make arrangements in their schedules to be at exciting life events for others who are healthy, living their lives, and able to eat and function without pain, yet they never seem to find time to do something as simple as stopping by my house to visit me or picking up the phone and calling me to talk.

I would love to be going out to barbecues, weddings, and family celebrations, but my reality is I am not in the condition to be able to. The times when I am stuck at home because I am in too much pain to leave the house or too weak to drive are the times I need someone the most, to help lift my spirits, help distract me from the pain. Maybe you could just engage in a conversation with me about anything other than my condition and how sick I am.

I found that even when I don’t have the energy to leave the house, having a conversation on the phone would at the very least take my mind off the pain, and sometimes it would lift my spirits. We could talk about something that makes me laugh. It great to share a laugh every now and then. I can promise you, when I am lying on the couch, alone in pain, I certainly am not laughing at anything.

So before you say the words, “If you need anything, I’m always here,” to someone living with chronic illness, remember what those words actually mean.

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Thinkstock photo by g-stockstudio

Originally published: May 12, 2017
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