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Why I Don’t Want People to Tell Me There's a 'Brighter Side' to My Illness

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There is nothing more wonderful than having a supportive and loving family and friend network around you when you battle a chronic illness. I cherish every kind word they said or every wordless gesture that shows how much they care. I have, however, grown sick of the “don’t worry, there is a bigger picture” or “there is a brighter side to this, you’ll see” and definitely very tired of “you’ll be a stronger person for this!”

Yes, friends, I know you mean well. I know you mean to make me feel better, but I am someone who rationally does not see a brighter side, does not want to be any stronger if this is where strength is derived from and certainly does not believe any bigger picture is worth these stills. These phrases are all gibberish to me.

So what do I want you to say to me? I want you to acknowledge me, tell me you’re there by my side, remind me to take my medications, make sure I engage in whatever activity I can physically be part of whenever possible so I don’t become isolated in a sedentary lifestyle. I want you to say “I can’t imagine how you feel, is there anything I can do to make it better?” or even just act like everything is normal (my normal preferably) and just carry on a conversation not including my illness. But please, don’t tell me it’s all for a greater good or one day it’s all going to be worth it. To my pain-struck nerve endings and tired soul, those are condescending words. Lend me a hand wherever you can, help me laugh and make the moments I choose to push past my illness and struggle later memorable and worth it. Because as it all gets worse, it’s the memories that push me forward.

Yes, I hope for a treatment or a miracle cure. At this point I might barter my soul for it. But please don’t tell me that there is a bigger picture out there or a brighter side to all this pain because there really isn’t, not to me and not right now. You can even ask me “What should I say or what would you like me not to say?” because I am so, so tired that I have no time for beating around the bush and it’s so much easier to just tell you where the roadblocks in conversations are. My physical anguish is enough of a burden without having to carry the burden of holding my breath every time someone says something to me regarding my condition.

Honestly, sometimes, just say nothing but be close at hand. Hold me if I need it or just stay close. I feel your genuine love and presence keenly without the need for words. Just exist around me as you are. That’s all.

Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: September 6, 2016
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