Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Just One Thing You Can Do for a Friend with Chronic Illness

Invisible Illness Week JUST ONE logo
Several of you here at Cranberry Tea Time have told me that you have a friend with a chronic illness, and you would like some ideas on how you can reach out to him or her. I am working on a blog post series about chronic illness and friendship, but for today, for Invisible Illness Week, I would like to share just one thing you can do for your friend who is ill.

One very important thing you can do for your friend with an invisible chronic illness is believe that the illness is real. It is simple, but significant, and it will mean a lot to your friend.

The symptoms of invisible illness cannot be seen. It isn't possible to measure the severity of weakness, fatigue, dizziness, or pain by looking at your friend. You can't see what is happening with the heart, lungs, stomach, nerves, or neurotransmitters. There may not be visible evidence of poor circulation.

Because those of us with invisible illness look so normal, sometimes our illness is disregarded by others. Sometimes we are accused of being lazy or exaggerating symptoms. Sometimes we receive funny looks or disbelieving comments from strangers who see us using a walker, a store scooter, or a handicapped parking spot. I have heard from many with chronic illness who have family or friends who do not believe they are ill simply because they “look good.”

One thing you can do for your friend is believe that what she says about her illness is true. When you do that, you become a safe place for her to open up and share about what she is going through or to just “be” when she isn’t feeling well. Believing that her invisible chronic illness is real is a good and treasured gift. It is just one simple thing, but it is significant.

Rachel and Lisa, Invisible Illness friends

Meeting my friend, Lisa, for the first time in 2008.
We both have invisible illnesses.


Read more "Just One" blog posts here!

Do you want some more ideas about how to help a friend with chronic illness? Here are 20 suggestions from the Invisible Illness Week website.

4 comments:

Kristen said...

This post is really powerful, Rachel. I agree with all the comments that these are things I wish I had known and been able to put into words when I first became disabled over 9 years ago. Part of me couldn't understand why it was such a big deal, like you said, to ride in the car, yet it was!

I was once driven to work to pick up some things, and a co-worker made a sarcastic remark about how I was able to be at work so I must be feeling fine. I couldn't even respond because I didn't fully understand how to explain that I could appear fine when I was pushing myself and then be unable to function for days after.

This is such incredible wisdom you're sharing with those who suffer and the healthy people who relate to them.

Amber Scott said...

Thank you so much for sharing...I suffer from a chronic illness and I am thankful I have the Lord but it is such a breath of fresh air to read something where someone understands. I am not in a wheelchair yet and my illness is invisible that my friends often forget that I am sick. Thank you so much for sharing I look forward to reading more of your blog and sharing in this journey with you. Blessings

Rachel Lundy said...

Thanks so much for stopping by, Amber! I look forward to getting to know you better and sharing our chronic illness journeys.

Tina said...

This is so true. I always thought the same thing. Oh, they have wheelchair it must make things so much better now. Um, nope. Been there, got the t-shirt it wasn't any better. No I wasn't going to pass out but it didn't stop the weakness or back pain.

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