I often read blogs about ‘What not to say to the chronically ill.’ On the whole I do think these are helpful for people who want to remain a good friend to those of us who have been blighted with these kinds of issues. (Huge credit to you for trying!! We know we aren’t the easiest bunch to be around at times, or at least I know that.) However I do find these blogs to be a little blanketing. Not all of us are the same. For example, many advise not to tell your chronically ill friend they’re looking good, because it implies you think there’s nothing wrong with them that day etc. Well, sorry to break the mould here folks, but I couldn’t disagree more. You see, most of the time I look far, FAR from good. In fact I look positively haggard. So, if by some miracle I’m actually looking good (particularly if I’ve made a special effort to) it’s lovely if people notice! Funnily enough I don’t want to look as sick as I feel.
So, here’s my list of things guaranteed to get MY back up, and why. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.
But you’re used to it.

This is usually in reference to the pain I live in, or some other aspect of my ill health. People often say this when they are ill, because clearly having these symptoms temporarily makes them oh so much worse than living with them day in, day out, for years on end.
Can I just clarify something here. You NEVER get used to crippling illness. Resigned to it. Yes. But not used to it. Learning to live with something is very different than becoming used to it. For example, if it became law that all men were to be kicked in the balls on the hour every hour, would their lives remain the same? Would they be happy? Soon this would become the new norm. After initial fighting, and resistance, the men would be resigned to their fate. But, would that make it hurt any less? No. Would it make the daily torture ok? Hell no.

What are you using that for?!

Often accompanied by ‘It makes you look like an old lady.’ Or also ‘You didn’t need it yesterday.’ As you may have guessed, this is referring to one of my mobility aids. Whichever one I happen to be utilising at the time.
Just know that using any of my aids is a huge disappointment to me. I hate to do it. But I will. If it means I can get out on a day Id usually be stuck home, or go on a day trip with my family, I’ll use it. But I’ll also struggle as long as I can without it. There is nothing shameful about using mobility aids, but it’s a personal issue I have, one that I’m trying to get over. I don’t want to feel embarrassed to use something I need. Your ‘joking around’ doesn’t help. Please stop.

It must be nice getting to stay home all day.

I’ve even been called lucky. Lucky. (Just let that sink in.)
I did not choose this life. Staying home all day everyday is not my idea of fun. Being stuck in bed is not my idea of life. I went to university. I used to have a career. I was going to earn good money and have a nice house. I was going to travel the world. There is not a day goes by I do not wish I could be working and less of a burden on my family. Oh, and there’s the crippling pain, exhaustion and plethora of other symptoms. They’re not fun either.

I wish I could be a stay at home mum.

This fits in seamlessly with the above comment.
You know what? So do I! I wish I could be a stay at home mum. At least the mum I always wanted to be. But I’m not. I’m an ill person. I’m a woman who listens to my daughter play whilst I lay in bed. I’m a woman who lets her husband run the home, and needs him to look after her. I’m a woman who’s absolute best will never be anywhere near what she feels she should be doing. Please don’t think I’m getting to be a Betty Crocker mum. I’m not. But I am giving my kids the best of me I possibly can.

You want rubbing out and starting again!

Someone also once kindly told me I needed putting down.
I know these comments are meant in jest. But, when someone is feeling worthless, this type of thing doesn’t help. It’s just another stick for me to beat myself with.

I feel so sorry for you.

There’s many other ways of saying this. But they all boil down to the same thing. Pity.
I don’t want your pity. Sometimes I have my own little pity parties, but they have a guest list of one. My life is what I’ve been handed. I’ll live it as best I can. Knowing I have your pity is not going to help me enjoy it. I’d rather have your friendship. Thanks.

So, that’s a few of my pet peeves. I know there’s many many more. This is a post that may end up having several volumes to it!! But I’d like it to be about more than just me ranting. What is like is for people to read this and for it to make them think. Are you being insensitive without realising it? Could there be better ways of talking to your chronically ill friend? Or even to people around you in general. People all have battles, and past hurts, we aren’t aware of. If I could give one piece of advice, it’s this, if you’re not sure if you’ve caused hurt, just ask. Knowing someone cares always helps.

Responses

  1. Gail

    And don’t you just love it when people tell you how great it is that you don’t have to go to work?, and the state gives you money! Yay! I loved losing over two thirds of my income to be trapped indoors unless someone is feeling ‘kind’ enough to take pity (!)and take you out,, as long as it’s somewhere they want to go, of course

  2. Gem

    Totally agree, I got ill at 25 (though had migraines since the age of 12 off and on) i didnt so much have a life planned out before i got ill i was on the unemployment line which didnt help matters! Back then it seemed no.matter what i did it wasnt good enough, something you wrote resignated with me.”I’m a woman who’s absolute best will never be anywhere near what she feels she should be doing.” thats how it makes you feel, since becoming ill, but i think its about your perception, how you approach it, i worry what i do is good enough, because, it takes so much energy to do it and i worry fault will be found with it. I agree it can be a life of pergitory, my frustration is always “why am i waiting?” it seems your alwaus waiting on others, but i do think the best lessons can.be learned from being ill, not that we have a choice though.