• Carly Wolf

Things Not to Say to a Person with a Chronic Illness

People often don't know what to say to someone with a chronic illness. So they say things that sound trite or demeaning. While I'm just speaking on personal preference, I thought I'd offer up a few alternatives to some of the sayings that many of us fierce fighters deal with all the time.  

The first one is, "But you look so good." To a person with an invisible illness, it can sound like you don't believe them just because you can't visibly see something wrong with them. It makes us sometimes think that you doubt that our disease is even real. A statistic to keep in mind is that one in ten people living in the US suffers from an invisible chronic health condition. The person you are talking with may look completely normal on the outside, but you have no idea how they are feeling. Many of us try hard to conceal our illness. Instead of talking about how good the person appears, you should instead ask them how they are feeling or about something else that the person may like to do.

"Everything happens for a reason." This saying is one that makes me mad. When someone says this to me, it makes me feel bad. It makes me question, is there something that I did to get sick with a chronic condition? If everything happens for a reason, I'd love to know the reason that I have a chronic illness. I often wonder these thoughts when people say this to me. 

"God only gives you what you can handle." OK, I have to be honest. This one upsets me. I am a Christian, and I believe in God. My issue with this one is that it implies that God gives you these struggles and deems that you can handle them. Here's the thing: I haven't found anywhere in the Bible that talks about God giving you hard challenges just because he thinks you can handle them. What I know from reading the Bible myself is that God promises to walk through life with us, especially when times are rough. I know God is there with me and fighting for me with everything that I do. Instead of saying God only gives you what you can handle, say that you are praying for them and remind them that God is always with them.

"It could be worse" is one of the last things that anyone wants to hear, to be honest. This comes off very demeaning to the person that you are saying this too. Everyone has struggles, and everyone goes through things in life, and everyone's struggles are valid! I once heard a response to this that stuck with me. You wouldn't say it's worse to drown in 50 feet of water instead of 5 feet of water. They both have the same result! That's just something to keep in mind! Instead of saying it could be worse say, "I am sorry you are struggling right now but is there anything that I could do to help?"

Here's something that I love to hear from family and friends: I believe you, and I'm here for you no matter what. 

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