It can be uncomfortable to be around a person who has a chronic illness when you don’t understand it – I mean, when the people with said illness don’t know how to cope half the time, how can we expect others to? This post comes from a place of love that people are generally doing the best they can to be there for someone they care about, and hopefully it’ll help them avoid making the following hurtful comments that people have said to me in the past.
1. “Are you better now?”
No, it’s called ‘chronic’ for a reason. I may get lucky and be in a place where my symptoms become manageable one day, but I’ll always have it. A relapse could be lurking around any unsuspecting corner….but in the meantime I’ll be living my life to the fullest and staying positive for the future.
2. “My friend cured herself with _. Why don’t you try _?”
Although this is coming from a good place, it’s really unhelpful and the last thing we want to hear. Chances are we’ve already looked high and low for alternative cures and probably aren’t ready to face the disappointment of trying yet another thing that doesn’t work.
3. “Janet has MS and you would never even know – if she can do it you can.”
Never compare one person’s illness with another. You have no idea how demoralizing this is. Just like people are all different, so is their disease compared to someone else – MS is called the snowflake disease for a reason. We know you’re trying to be positive, but this just makes us feel like shit moreso than the disease already makes us feel.
4. “Just be positive! Don’t let it get you down!”
I’ll tie bricks to your limbs, give you stabbing pains all over, nausea so bad you can’t eat, nerve twitches and a fever and you can tell me how positive you can be. People with chronic illness are trying to be positive and you saying that doesn’t make it any easier.
5. “But you’re always ill, you never make the effort to come out anymore.”
Oh I do apologize – I’ll just turn it off for today then. *Presses off switch* Aaaah much better. So what are we doing?
6. “At least it’s not_…”
If you were in the hospital with a broken leg, I wouldn’t come and visit you and say “well at least it wasn’t a heart attack.”It’s so irrelevant to compare diseases and shows that you aren’t taking the person or their illness seriously at all.
If you know someone who suffers with their mental or physical health issues, please remember to be mindful of avoiding the above comments. Remember that you haven’t experienced what they’re going through, and all they need for you to support them is listening and understanding.
If you have a chronic illness – mental or physical – I’d love to hear what people say to you in the comments below!
Kerry lives with Multiple Sclerosis in the UK. Visit her blog at https://feedingmindandbody.wordpress.com/.