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How to Support Someone Walking Through a Chronic Illness

girl on parking garage
Girl on parking garage

I know you want to love us, but you might not know how to. You might not know what your person needs. Long story short, I’ve been crushing Crohn’s since April of 2015. I was diagnosed with severe Crohn’s Disease at 19. I’ll share this story more in-depth soon, but for now, here’s how you can love and support someone walking through a chronic illness.

Don’t give them advice unless they ask for it.

We don’t want to know what worked for your friend’s brother’s mom, so please don’t give it. Chances are, we’ve already tried what you are about to suggest, and it didn’t work for us. Every body is different and what works for someone else might not work for us. They have probably already done a ton of research and tried pretty much everything out there. They know their body well and they know how to treat it. If we specifically ask for advice, then sure, share what worked!

Don’t make them feel like a burden.

There are going to be times they say no. There are going to be times that they literally don’t have energy and that they are too tired to do something. They are already going to feel like a bad friend for bailing. Respect their no. Because you guilting them into doing something will ultimately harm their body, and make them feel bad for listening to it. Don’t get mad at them. There might be times where they are sleeping a good portion of the day. Let them rest, they’ll catch up with you when they can.

Don’t try and fix them.

But instead, love them, support them, and listen to them. Mental breakdowns are a thing. Flares are a thing. They can try and explain how they feel and what’s going on, but there is no way you will actually be able to understand everything they have gone through, but just listen. They aren’t looking for a fix.

Check in with them.

I’m open about everything I’ve gone through. But most of the time, if somethings going on, I hide it and don’t talk about it until someone actually checks in with me. Ask them how they really are doing every now and then. Show them that you care.

Be dependable.

They are going to depend on you, a lot. Even more so than they let on. They may not say they need you – but trust me, your presence shows you care about them. Be dependable and reliable. Chances are, they feel pretty alone. They may feel like no one actually cares or understands them. Just be a normal friend to them. The reason they love you is exactly that, you make them feel normal. Be consistent, dependable, and something they can understand, something that makes sense, because they can’t find those things within their own body.

Find the humor with them.

I’m a firm believer that humor is the best medication. So laugh with them. Your laughs replace any of their side effects they are experiencing with their medication treatment. Hugs replace the pain they are feeling in the pit of their stomachs. Your tears and vulnerability replace their tired and motionless bodies. It is all about the shared moments, the quality time, I promise it means the world to them. So just be yourself around them.

Ask them questions.

This one might depend on the person, but I am pretty open about my story. I know I am called to share my story and that it is a testimony of God’s goodness. So ask me about it. Ask me the things you don’t know and want to know. Do your best to understand. I get that it can be a lot of information and you may not know anything about what they are going through. My goal is to educate and bring awareness to others while sharing my story.

Being diagnosed with a chronic illness isn’t fun or easy. Hopefully, these 7 things help you understand how to support anyone walking through a chronic illness. If you have any specific questions on how to support someone walking through a chronic illness, drop them in the comment section!

comments +

  1. David Harris says:

    What a good introspective insight of your experience with Crohn’s.

  2. David Harris says:

    Great insight Lindsay Harris

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