Do you or someone you know have a chronic illness?
If you’re someone like me with chronic illness or know of someone who does. You know that some illnesses are invisible. Just because someone doesn’t look sick, doesn’t mean they aren’t. As with any illness, people need encouragement. Sometimes it’s just an ear to listen, even if you don’t know what to say. Sometimes just listening shows you care.
Nine out of 10 chances people with any chronic illness have heard all the negative and sometimes hurtful words from those who don’t understand. If you know someone who has a chronic illness, it only takes a few minutes to google a condition, and a few moments of your time to learn about your loved one’s condition. That way you won’t think that the person is just complaining, overreacting, faking, or attention-seeking.
We have heard, and have tried
If you are the one with a chronic illness or the person who knows someone with a chronic illness. You probably have heard or said some words like the following— “ but you don’t look sick”, “ could be worse”, “ if you just moved more”, “ maybe you should exercise”, “ maybe you should change your diet”, “ you should push through the fatigue”, “ I know so and so who has ( said chronic illness) and they’re doing great”. These last two are kickers, “ maybe you should lose weight” and “ it’s all in your head”.
I’m sure there are more, words that you’ve heard or said to someone. Please understand that sometimes an illness is invisible. If we could move more we would and do when we can. Physical exertion one day can cause us to be down for days. Pushing through fatigue is easier said than done— sometimes we can push through, sometimes we can’t.
When someone tells us about someone they know who has (said) chronic illness and is doing great, please be mindful that everyone is different. Most likely we have tried to lose weight. And, yes, it is in our head, most of the time people with chronic illness have anxiety, depression, loneliness, and more due to feeling helpless, and for some they have lost hope.