13 Things NOT to say to Someone Suffering from Chronic illness
For someone suffering from a chronic illness, no matter in what shape or form, some days just getting out of bed can be a struggle. You fight as hard as you can, and from the outside, it can sometimes be hard to see the struggle. If that is not enough, someone with a chronic illness sometimes gets questioned or misunderstood, even a single word can be fatal.
This is why it is essential to illuminate to the unknowing on the importance to be tolerable and understanding.
Finding the right balance between respecting and accepting someones chronic pain at the same time treat them as the normal human beings they are.
As someone who is not suffering from chronic illness, but has been around said people both in my profession and in my personal life, I’d like to gather and inform on some things to keep in mind whenever interacting with someone that has the unpleasure of a chronic disease.
Besides the listed things I advise caution to mention, the most important aspect is in the context. Here are 13 things not to say to someone with a chronic illness.
1. But You Don’t Look Sick
Not all chronic illnesses are visible on the outside, at least not for the untrained eye.
As a chronic pain sufferer, you’re just like everybody else. Some days are better where you can both laugh and manage heavier tasks, but mostly it is the opposite.
Someone with chronic pain is very adaptable to the surroundings to avoid a lot of things, for example, the fear of being judged.
So this can render in a chronically ill person looks completely healthy on the outside.
2. Aren’t You too Young to be Sick
If there is something that can hurt greatly as young and in chronic pain, is that you are too young to be able to be having chronic pain. Unfortunately, chronic pain doesn’t give a rats ass about who it is affecting.
This is a big problem when it comes to insurances and other types of diagnosis since the health care system is eager to fixate too much on the age aspect and deem anyone too young to have chronic pain, just because younger people in general “looks healthier”.
3. We are All Tired
Yeah, of course, we’re all tired, but using this phrase as normalizing the fatigue chronic pain has on a person can be very demeaning and hurtful. The amount of sleep doesn’t matter since the fatigue simply comes with the body trying to cope with the illness.
This often causes mindless blur of thoughts, making everything from decisionmaking to going to the toilet excruciating.
4. You’re Just Having A Bad Day
Well, as the name suggests, It’s not a “daily illness” but a “chronic illness”. You can’t count the pain in months or even years at some occasions, and a chronic illness is something a lot of people have to suffer from throughout their life, since it is often hard to find the cause for the illness, only being able to slow it down or ease the pain to a certain extent.
When a chronic pain sufferer actually opens up to talk about their pain, it’s not a bad day, it’s just the day they expose themselves and confines in you, don’t use it against them!
5. It Must be Nice not Having to Work or Study
I cannot imagine it is. A vast majority of chronically ill people would do anything to be released from the shackles of the pain and return to a normal life. This is a very hurtful thing to hear, and it’s like saying “It must be nice not have to walk everywhere” to someone in a wheelchair.
A lot of younger people misses the opportunity to study something they most desire while other people lose their whole social life and a career they have been working on for an extensive period of time. It’s like to lose an identity.
Just imagine always watching through the looking glass, at people fulfilling their dreams and goals while only being able to stand idly by.
6. You Should Take a Walk, You Need Exercise
Exercise can be a great cure for a lot of things, and sometimes even for someone with chronic pain. But to think that simple exercise will make the chronic pain go away is madness. Exercise can actually make the illness worse.
Of course, a chronic pain sufferer also need movement and of course it’s important, and going on a walk do sound fantastic, but this morning it took the person you told this to 45 minutes to get dressed.
An advice can be communicated in a lot of different ways but be careful expressing them and stop thinking you know something better than the actual sufferer.
7. Oh, I Wish I had time for a Nap!
As someone with a chronic illness, rest is the most important thing, and but it is not referring to the same kind of nap you are. When a chronic pain sufferer naps, they don’t just lay down on the couch for 30 mins, then wake up feeling refreshed.
Sometimes the fatigue can be much greater even after 30 minutes, or even 12 hours of sleep.
And it is not like it’s their choice to just lay around on the couch all day either!
8. Try to Think Positive
I would want to imagine that most of the chronic pain sufferers are positive to the core, or else they wouldn’t be able to get by even a single day in their suffering bodies.
Talking about and describing the pain is not the same as being negative, it’s just painting a picture of reality. To be able to discuss a disease means that you are insightful and self-aware and a way to cope with it. Not being able to talk about a chronic pain would be very unfortunate. A lot of the identity of the sufferer is wired to sometimes get into survival mode.
9. You’ll get Past this, Just be Patient!
Sometimes, you might just want to add some motivation and hope to a chronic pain sufferer, but sometimes this kind of motivation is so far from the truth that it will hurt deeply since it just enlightens the fact that it just probably won’t happen.
Also, it minimizes the illness to something curable and temporary.
Instead, try to show compassion and show that you understand that the pain is chronic.
10. Just Fight Through it
Well, isn’t this something someone with a chronic illness is doing every single day, every single minute? They have to fight because they have no other choice, it’s not like they can take a day off from being ill. Having this approach to chronic illness is one of the reasons chronic pain sufferers avoid seeking help.
11. Well, Have you tried this..?
Well, unless you’re suggesting something completely irrational and stupid, the answer is most definitely YES. It’s not like “oh, I wonder if this might help me, well I guess I’ll never know”.
Even though it is said with love – its also kind of minifying and might come off as they have not done their best in dealing with the pain and instead just whining about it.
12. You Need to Get out More
Isolation is a bad thing, we can mostly all agree on that. But as someone with a chronic illness, the most vulnerable place to be is out in public. It is so exhausting trying to keep up appearance and to converse with people outside of your comfort zone.
Also, using energy to trying to socialize might not be well spent, since the next day will probably be spent trying to recover.
So again, try to be careful telling chronic pain sufferers what they should do, and ease into helping them with something that is more specific to their needs.
13. You Need to Lay of the Drugs
How is that possibly something you have any knowledge in? Unless you are the doctor prescribing the medicine, this is not something you would even start to understand. A lot of the pain can be alleviated with medicine, and while the side-effects might be horrific, its usually worth it either way.
However, on a more serious note, if someone you are close enough to that is clearly abusing any drugs or medicine in an unnatural way, this is another discussion that won’t be enclosed here.
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