Health Care, Mind, Love, Life Stories

10 ways to better support your chronically ill friends

It's not easy to feel crummy every single day

No matter how old you are, being sick in never fun. If you have a chronic illness, or illnesses, like I do, you may experience being sick all of our most of the time.

I developed an autoimmune disorder called vasculitis when I was 18 years old. It was a shock, and I’m still getting used to feeling crummy everyday. I couldn’t have done it without my friends though. So, I rounded up a list 10 ways people can better support their chronically ill friends, based on what my friends have done and what I wish that they would have done.

1. Ask how we want to be supported

Snoopy giving Charlie Brown a hug. Via Giphy

Everyone is different, so it make sense that we all want to be supported in different ways. A good step in supporting us chronically ill people is to ask us how we want to be supported.

2. Lend an ear to our complaints

Robbie Rotten telling the audience to listen closely. Via Giphy

Being sick often, juggling different doctor’s appointments, and, in some cases, dealing with insurance companies, can be overwhelming. Lend an ear to our complaints if you’re in a safe mental space to do so.

3. When making plans, check out how accessible a place is

Flash Slothmore smiling. Via Giphy

Chronic Illness symptoms can impede someone’s ability to move some, most, or all of the time. It means the world to me when my friends suggest accessible spaces to hang out.

4. Send cute pick-me-ups

A human flopping the arms of a sleepy corgi. via Giphy

Positive encouragements and cute animal photos are always welcome. I often get bad news when it comes to my physical health, and it never gets easier. If you find a video of golden retriever puppies – please send it my way.

5. Check in with us after doctor’s appointments

A blonde girl greeting a friend on the phone. Via Giphy

I have a complicated relationship with doctors. I need their help to stay alive but have trouble trusting them after years of being told that my symptoms were in my head.

6. Offer to come with us to doctor’s appointments

Two friends, or two cherries, smiling. via Giphy.

Going to multiple doctor’s appointments each week isn’t easy on anyone. Despite having to do this regularly for a year now, I still have a difficult time going to doctor”s appointments. If you’re free, offer to go to an appointment with a friend.

7. Don’t dish out advice

US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sighing during the 2019 State of Union Address via Giphy.

I spend so much time invested into looking into possible treatment options for my chronic illness – even more than my doctor. I’m not interested in hearing the remedy that your Aunt Carol heard from her knitting group.

8. Call us out when it’s clear we’re not prioritizing our health

Serena Williams speaking during a press conference via Giphy

I’m an overachiever who always puts my work first. This comes to bite me in the butt when I get severe flare-ups. I’m grateful for the friends that call me out when I put my work ahead of my health.

9. Help advocate for our needs

Cartoon figures marching around with “Unfair” signs blocking their faces via Giphy

As a rare disease patient, seeing funding being stripped away from rare disease research under the Trump presidency is terrifying. Please advocate for rare disease research. Treatment for my disease is very limited, so research is the best chance for me to have a better quality of life.

10. Remind us that we have a lot to live for

A bear being buried with hearts via Giphy

It feels like my life currently exists in limbo, as I’m not dead, but I’m too sick to do what I want in life. I’m grateful for the people who remind me that I have a lot to live for.

Each person with a chronic illness is different, so these are just some ideas from me, a singular chronically person.