"My sisters, cousins, friends, brothers, aunty, went for a walk, and she was cured!"
Yep, we've all heard it. The "have you tried?", the "Walk it off", and of course the "no pain no gain"
Shut the front gate, and get outta here! Being sick is hard, being in pain is tough. Being a support to someone who is unwell or in pain is just as hard sometimes. What can you say to help? A lot of the time you cant say anything to make it easier for them, so we're here to tell you what NOT to say.
1. "You look well today!"
Say this and you could have an eyebrow or 10 raised at you. Just because we don't look sick today, doesn't mean we aren't. Sufferers of chronic illness have to learn to adjust and cope with being sick, our scale of 1-10 looks very different to a normal 1-10 scale. Instead, Try to move away from physical compliments, let us know its nice to have us around today, or you admire our persistence.
2. "Far out, you look shit"
I mean, even if its followed up by an "are you okay?" its not great to be reminded that we look like absolute trash because we rolled out of bed, didn't shower or brush our hair today because we are totally out of spoons. We showed up, to see you, to go to work. Thats enough isn't it? Really not sure why some people feel the need to tell us how terrible we look, you'd think people would know this isn't nice to say after learning manners in kindergarten, but I guess not.
3. "Have you tried.... " "maybe stop eating xyz..."
Don't try to find out why, or suggest "cures". We have spent YEARS if not a lifetime itching for a diagnosis. Trust me when we say we have tried EVERYTHING we have seen EVERY kind of doctor. Yes, to western medicine, yes to alternative therapy, yes to showing our armpits to the moonlight, when we say we have tried it all, we mean it. We are doing the best we can. If you're having trouble understanding, maybe ask if you can come along to an appointment to support us.
4. "Think Positive"
Meanwhile we are imagining a Dragon lighting you up like a candle wick.... We totally can not think positive when we've been in and out of hospitals, being dismissed of pain, with organs being stuck together or falling out of us. Being told we cant have children, or will now have to poop through our stomachs. Its best to let us grieve, let us grieve the life we wish we had, the life we maybe use to have... Hold our hand while we cry, let us know you are here for us.
5. "It could be worse"
You're so right, it one million percent could be worse, but it doesn't make it any easier for us. Simple explanation for this one...
6. "You're so lucky you get to stay in bed"
Trust me when I say I'd much rather be out for a walk, at work or with friends. Instead I'm in bed dealing with all my symptoms while debating if its now the time to go to hospital. Hmmm... not so lucky hey?
Just zoooop * zips mouth up and throws away the key * Say nothing, nod your head, give them a cuddle, cook a meal, run them a hot bath, warm up a heat pack. Just be there for them, show them you're there for support, and that they can vent, without being lectured or told what and how to manage their illness. THEIR ILLNESS.
The best thing you can do is let them know you love being in their company, make yourself available to support them. The greatest gift you can give anyone suffering from illness is time, your time.