When someone in your life has a chronic illness, whether it be a physical or mental illness, it can be very hard not only on that person, but in the people in their life, including you.
Here are some tips—from someone with a chronic illness—on how to make things a little less challenging for you, whether you are a family member, friend or even a significant other.
This may seem quite obvious, but it is one of the most important things to me when it comes to how people in my life cope with the chronic illness I have. Chronic illness is a very broad term. It can really be any kind of illness, whether it be physical or mental.
Basically, such a person deals with a particular illness on a daily basis or throughout their life. They feel the effects of the illness daily, and it interferes with their everyday well-being.
If such a person in your life is really not feeling well, is moody or just downright sad or frustrated, try to be understanding of what they are going through. Even if you cannot empathize, try to sympathize the best you can. What they are living with is beyond tough; it is like a rollercoaster they can never get off of.
If they do seem quite down about it, or in a mood, tell them that you understand why they are acting that way and that you will do anything you can to help. They will be very thankful for your understanding and kindness—more than you know.
They will feel safe with you as well if you understand, which will, in turn, make you feel quite good as well. Also, make sure to be understanding of any restrictions they may have, and do not force them to do anything that could make them very uncomfortable and unsafe.
Don’t Take Anything Personally
With my chronic illness, I sometimes have to cancel plans. Even if these are plans that have been around for a while and that you are very excited for, sometimes they will have no choice but to cancel. Do not take that personally. They feel awful about canceling and always worry that they may hurt your feelings. Assure them that it is okay. Even if you are mad, reassure them.
I am not saying that you can’t tell them that you are upset or disappointed, but do not take it personally and think they do not want to see you. However, if you do express disappointment, be sure to once again explain that you understand.
It is the disease that they have; it has nothing to do with you whatsoever. Do you think that they would rather be at home feeling sick, mentally or physically, rather than hanging out and having fun with you? Absolutely not.
Walk a Mile in Their Shoes
It might be impossible to walk a mile in that person’s shoes, but really try to picture what they may be going through and what it would be like if it were you going through it. I have a chronic stomach illness; everyone has had a really bad stomachache and discomfort before, right? I sometimes say to others, “Imagine having to go through that every day.”
Think of the person in your life who has the chronic illness and try to see if you can relate to what they are going through. Even if you can’t relate to it exactly and you have never gone through it before in your life, you’ve gone through pain, right? Picture going through that every single day. It will give you a better understanding of what they may be going through.
Be There to Listen
Sometimes, the person in your life who has the chronic illness may just need someone to listen to their problems and what they are going through or just a shoulder to cry on. They may feel very alone in what they are going through.
Be someone who is there for them to talk to about it. Even if you have no clue what they are living with, just be there to listen. They are not trying to complain; they just want to explain what they are going through.
It can be very hard for that person to talk about what they are going through, so reassure them that you are there for them whenever they may need someone to talk to and understand when they may not want to talk either.
Coping with someone in your life who has a chronic illness is not always easy and can sometimes be very confusing and emotional for you. I hope that these tips can be of help to you. Do you have any other helpful tips or words of encouragement? If so, comment below!