Speak about your or your loved ones’ illness as often as you can. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. Not talking about it doesn’t cure it. Sure, you get tired of talking about it, especially if it’s not getting better. Sure, you get frustrated always giving the same answer when people ask how you’re doing or how they’re doing. You may even hope people stop asking.
Here’s the problem with not talking about it, you hold everything inside. This alone can cause anxiety, frustration or depression about the illness. The family and your friends need to know they can discuss it as well. Not discussing it can make it seem taboo to mention. This puts people on edge around you. Afraid they’ll say the wrong thing or ask the wrong question.
A chronic illness may be a big part of your life but it does not define you.
You never know who else may be suffering too and need to talk about it. Talking about it may drive some people away from you. These people were not your true friends anyway. Chronic illness will filter out your friends. Those that truly care about you will still be there. They are the ones who will ask how you’re doing. They don’t get tired of hearing about it even if your answers never change.
Talking about your illness is therapeutic. Putting your thoughts about it into words can be freeing. A chronic illness may be a big part of your life but it does not define you. It may touch every aspect of your life or your family’s life but it doesn’t change the fact that you are family and you are loved by that family.
Invisible chronic illness is often harder. No one can see how sick the person may be. Others can’t tell how much pain the person may be in. It’s up to them to let others know. If you know someone with a chronic illness, ask them about it. Spend time listening to them or their family.
“Two are better than one; because they have a good return for their labor.
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up…” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
They do not suffer alone; the family is right there with them. Read more about the loved ones of those with chronic illness on Shattered Dishes. It not uncommon to have lots of offers to help or people asking about it frequently in the beginning. After it has gone on for a while people forget and get busy with their own lives. They think the sick person is better if they haven’t heard anything in a while. It gets lonely. The offers for help get more infrequent or go away completely.
I’m not saying that the illness should be the topic of every conversation, it should be brought up in every setting or the first thing you say when you meet someone. Seriously, if you said, ” Hi, I’m Jane, I suffer from…, it’s nice to meet you.”, that would be a very awkward meeting. It also tends to lead to the feeling that your illness is who you are. Don’t let it define you, or your loved one, but don’t be afraid to talk about it. It will be freeing!
Are you a friend to a family who is affected by a chronic illness? Do you encourage them to talk about it?
Do you suffer from a chronic illness? If so, do you talk about it?
I would love to hear your experiences with discussing chronic illness.