It can be difficult to know how to respond a friend's struggles with chronic illness. It's never a comfortable feeling when you're faced with your inability to fix a loved one's problems. But please don't let these unique struggles keep you from trying to be there for them. Here are some ways you can truly support a friend who is chronically ill:
1. Don’t make us feel like we're a fun sucker or party pooper.
We know there's nothing fun about illness. There's nothing fun about feeling too weak to go out. There's nothing fun about our illnesses getting in the way of our plans. All we want is to be able to go out on fun adventures with you, and we feel so guilty when our bodies stop us.
2. Support us making friends with other people who are ill if we want to.
I have had friends in the past who don't like the time I spend talking to friends I've made online who also deal with chronic illness. They take it as a personal attack against them. What really touched me was when my best friend said the other day, "I'm so glad that you have these people in your life, because there's only so much I can understand." It takes a wise and selfless friend to admit that, and I thought that really showed how much she cares about my wellbeing.
3. Don’t forget about us.
We may have to reject a lot of invitations to plans, but we still like to be asked. It can be so isolating when you have to say no all the time, but being asked shows that you still care and still want to spend time with us.
4. Show interest in our illness by googling it or asking questions about it. This will let us know you care.
To us, you wanting to know more about our illness is a mark of true love. When you make it obvious that you want to completely understand what is happening inside our bodies, we feel cared for. The fact that you want to take the time to educate yourself about our condition shows true love.
5. Help us when we want to raise awareness.
I happen to love to raise awareness for my conditions. I feel so loved when my friends share articles about my condition or tell me stories about how they educated someone. My best friend shows her love by attending an annual fundraising walk with me every year with excitement.
If you've read this article and are looking to be a better friend to your friends with chronic illness, thank you. Just the fact that you clicked this link shows you're trying and that we're important to you!