Talking to Someone With a Chronic Illness
Editor’s note: Lisa Copen is the founder of Invisible Illness Awareness Week. She has lived with rheumatoid arthritis for nearly 20 years. She spends her time encouraging others who live with chronic illness or pain through her organization, Rest Ministries.
(CNN) — When people we care about are in pain, we want to offer words of encouragement, help ease their pain and motivate them to stay hopeful.
Unfortunately, our words of cheer can often be misinterpreted by those who live with chronic illness. Rather than feeling supported, our words can evoke the feeling of “she doesn’t understand my life at all.” This can permanently affect our relationships.
This week is National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, aimed at increasing communication between the chronically ill and those who care about them.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when talking to a friend living with an invisible illness.
What not to say:
You look so good!
Although this seems like a compliment, it’s frustrating to an ill person. Although he or she may wish to look better than they feel, it seems as though you are saying, “You can’t really be sick. You look fine to me.” It invalidates a person’s pain and symptoms.
Living with chronic illness
You need to just stop thinking about it and get busy.
True chronic illness doesn’t heal itself because of distraction. Although some people may dwell on the details of their illness, it can seem emotionally overwhelming when your life revolves around new symptoms, medication side effects, infections from a lowered immune system and the illness itself. He or she would likely love to do something fun, but fatigue and pain prevent it.
Click here for full article