Chronic incurable conditions such as Crohn’s disease, migraines, arthritis, and gastroparesis (to name a few), can be extremely painful for people like myself to deal with – and to hear the following comments just makes us feel worse. Here are five things not to say to someone like myself, who has an illness that can’t be seen.
1. “Did this flare up because you ____ or did you get this because you ____?”
There are some insensitive people who often ask whether a person’s weight, smoking, or whatever led to their condition worsening. Blame is the last thing that a person with serious problems needs. Before you ask any questions like this, ask yourself, “Should I say this in order to provide support or help?”
2. “I read on the internet that if you tried ___, it would cure your illness.”
If there was a cure for our chronic condition, our doctor would’ve told us by now.
Unless you have an “MD” after your name and have gone to medical school, don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Chances are it’s false information.
Please do some research and rethink what you just said.
3. Being silent and not saying a word.
Having nothing to say or being absent from the patient’s life sends the message that you cannot accept their situation. Those that have stood by me don’t ignore how my health issues have affected my life, or my new situation. They make an effort to call, take time to email or visit to see how I’m doing.
4. “You need to relax so stress doesn’t cause you to get sick.”
One of the biggest misconceptions is that stress is the cause of Crohn’s. Most experts believe it can be caused by a variety of factors such as heredity, a weakened immune system, or the environment.
Stress can aggravate or trigger symptoms. This is the difference from causing the development of the disease.
5. Don’t give up on us.
It can be frustrating when we have to cancel plans or need a ride to the ER. It can be mentally draining when we’re sad or not around for a while. No matter what, do not give up on your loved one or friend. No matter how you try to help us, the effort alone is appreciated.
The best thing you can do for your sick loved one or friend is to be there for them and do your best to understand. It will make it more bearable knowing that we have someone in our corner.
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