Do’s and Don’ts in talking to chronically ill people.
When you are talking to people with chronic illnesses, be it physical or mental, what are the things you can and cannot say?
First, let’s start with things you cannot do or say to a chronically ill person:
‘You’ll get better if you exercise more and eat better.’ BIG NO NO!!!
‘It sounds like it’s all in your head.’ You might as well stab us in the heart, cause that’s what those words feel like.
‘Are you sure that’s a real illness? I’ve never heard of it before.’ Just because you haven’t heard of it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist!
‘Surely it can’t be as bad as you pretend it is.’ Unless you are dealing with the exact same thing and the exact same amount of pain, then you have no idea how bad it truly is.
There’s a lot of things you can’t say or do around a chronically ill person. Don’t ask to borrow the meds of a person with an illness, we need our meds for a reason and we cannot afford to give them away, if you truly need them, go see a doctor.
You can’t give people ‘medical’ advice, unless you’re in the medical profession yourself. You may mean well, but you can do more harm then good. You can give suggestions and tell the person to ask their doctor about it.
Don’t tell a chronically ill person that they don’t look sick, so they must be faking. A lot of people don’t look sick but are in effect very sick. My grandfather had cancer for years and no one knew about it, he didn’t look sick until the very last few months. Being ill doesn’t mean looking ill.
Don’t tell a person with an illness to just deal with it, as if they’re going through a break-up and have to deal with that. We can’t just nod our heads and say ok, we’re dealing with it, because someone says so. We do our best, but we can’t always just deal with it or get over it. You don’t just get over being in excruciating pain every day.
Here’s some of the things you can do when dealing with a chronically ill person:
Show them support. Sometimes just being there and talking to them is enough. We may be ill, but we’re still like every other person with feelings, we want acceptance and love, simple as that.
Even if you can’t be there in person, you can always give your sick friend or family member a call. Asking us how we are doing means a lot to us, because it shows that you care.
If your friend or family member has an illness you’ve never heard of, or you don’t really know what it does, ask them to explain it to you, or research it yourself. Showing compassion and understanding goes a long way with us.
Offer us a helping hand when you can, tell us you’re here for us when we need you. Just treat us the same as you did before we got sick. We may be ill and need more help, but we’re still the same person we have always been, we’re just dealing with a little more now.
Just love us for who we are, no matter what. That’s all we want.
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