5 Things the Chronically Ill Want “Healthy People” to Know

5 Things the Chronically Ill Want “Healthy People” to Know

August 9, 2016 | Posted in: Chronic illness and relationships, chronic illness; support, Chronic Life, Relationships

Sometimes, the gap between us can feel insurmountable. Maybe we’ve become so immersed in our world of sickness and symptoms we can’t remember what it’s like to be healthy. We stare at you with curiosity and wonder like you’re an unknown species. Maybe you feel the same. You want to understand the chronically ill in your world, but they feel so far away. I’d like to help with that today by sharing five things the chronically ill want “healthy people” to know.

1) We need your help. Despite our desperate desire not to burden you and to maintain our previous level of independence, the truth is we need your help. We can’t do the things we could before our illness took over and sometimes we’re afraid to ask for help because we’ve been hurt or disappointed in the past. It can be isolating and scary to need help and yet, not know where to find it. If you’re willing to help, speak up. Let us be honest about what we need. Don’t assume you automatically know what help we need. And if you can find a way to lend a hand without making it feel like a big deal? Well then, extra brownie points for you.

2) We feel like we have to pretend. We know hearing about our illness gets old fast. Heck, it’s our illness and we’re tired of hearing about it. But sometimes it’s overtaking us and we may feel like it’s crowding out our relationship. So we pretend. We pretend to feel better than we do. We pretend to feel more optimistic, less afraid than we do. All this pretending is done for your benefit but leaves us feeling more alone in the long run. So when we do break down and tell you how afraid we are? When we’re honest about just how bad this flare has been? Your response tells us how honest we can be in the future. The weight of our illness(es) can be a lot for one person to carry. We’d love for you to be a safe place where pretending isn’t required.

3) We didn’t do this. We didn’t choose to be sick and we’d undo it in a heartbeat if we could. Many of us had a genetic predisposition to our illness, which was entirely outside of our control. While we may not be managing our illness in the ways you would, chances are we’re doing our best. Fighting for health is demanding, exhausting, hard and worthwhile work and what your mom taught you about saying something nice or nothing at all applies here. If you can’t cheer us on, please don’t kick us while we’re down.

4) We want to thrive. We don’t enjoy lying in our beds all day or being unable to work. It may look somewhat appealing from the outside but it’s not. Resting is fantastic when it’s an option, not when it’s a necessity. We hate missing out on significant events in your lives. We want to be productive members of society. We’re doing everything in our power to set up a profitable lemonade stand in our front yard with this pile we’ve been given.

5) We envy and appreciate you. Yes, it sometimes stings to see you out living a life we can’t. This doesn’t mean we aren’t happy for you. In fact, it means we want this fulfillment for you all the more. We love to see people enjoying life to the fullest. But just like the woman who struggles with infertility may ache upon hearing her best friend’s pregnancy announcement and still be thrilled, we feel joy and sorrow as we watch others living out our dreams. Mostly, we’re really glad we get to do life alongside you.

 

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11 Comments

  1. Mary S
    August 9, 2016

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    This is beautiful. We need to be more understanding and thoughtful to those that are hurting around. We are blessed to be a blessing. God has called us to reach the hurt and the broken. We need to use our gifts and talents to reach out to those in need.

  2. Lanna Webb
    August 9, 2016

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    Exactly spot on! Thanks for getting these words out there!

    • Stacey Philpot
      August 10, 2016

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      Thanks for reading, Lanna!

  3. Kim
    August 9, 2016

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    Wow, you nailed it! These are exactly the things I’ve thought and felt over the past few years since my diagnosis.

  4. Wendy Munsell
    August 9, 2016

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    Although going through chemotherapy prior to surgery for breast cancer doesn’t necessarily qualify me as “chronically ill,” it does give me an increased understanding of what you are talking about in this post. There is so much truth in what you are sharing… thank-you!

    • Stacey Philpot
      August 10, 2016

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      I’m praying for you, Wendy. Your strength and transparency bless me.

  5. Leah
    August 9, 2016

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    This is so great! This is EXACTLY how the spouse of an addict feels as well. Every single one of those things you described I’ve felt (and sometimes currently feel). Sharing and God bless!

    • Stacey Philpot
      August 10, 2016

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      So interesting, Leah! Thank you for mentioning that! I would have never made that connection, but of course, it makes so much sense!

  6. Emily Furda
    August 10, 2016

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    I can’t shout amen loud enough! Perfectly said Leah!

  7. Laine
    August 26, 2016

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    Stacey, you’ve given a voice to the feelings we have every day. I wish I could infuse understanding of these 5 things into every person in the world–I wish I could have known them myself, before I became chronically ill! How it would have changed the way I lived around those who were.

    • Stacey Philpot
      August 26, 2016

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      Absolutely, Laine! I wish I’d better understood these things before sickness was such a defining factor in my life as well. I wish I had treated the people fighting such intense battles with illness around me with more kindness and understanding.

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