Ways to Support Someone Living with a Chronic Illness
If you care for or live with someone diagnosed with a chronic illness, then you know some days are harder than others for us. We, unfortunately, don't get to pick and choose when we have bad days...they kind of just happen.
We need support
We don't only struggle physically, but also emotionally. The one thing we all want and need is support from those we love. Here are some of the ways that my family supports me and what I find to be the most helpful as someone living with ankylosing spondylitis.
Lend a hand
One of the ways that my mom has been the most helpful to me is that she picks my kids up from school whenever I'm not well enough. I wrote in a previous article about how the carpool line causes me immense pain because sitting for too long is really difficult for those of us living with AS. I also have bad days when I'm just too tired and fatigued to get up and go get them. I'm really blessed that I have a mom who lives so close and will literally drop everything to help me. If you can be that person, be that person.
Let us off the meal hook
If we're clearly having a bad day, please don't ask us to make dinner or any meal for that matter. Offer to pick up takeout. Or even better, cook for us! We don't need to be catered to, but sometimes even the thought of having to cook a meal is unfathomable
Reach out to us
Text or call us just because. Like I said, living with these conditions takes both a physical and mental toll on us, and sometimes we feel really lonely. A simple text can remind us that we're not alone in this because we have you!
Don't pressure us
Don't pressure us to go out when we don't want to. A night out for us can sometimes lead to a day or two in bed, and we may just not be up for it. Please don't get upset when we say no, because it's not that we don't want to. Sometimes we really just can't do it.
Clean up, even just a litle
This one is more for the husbands/wives of a stay-at-home parent living with a chronic illness. Please, please don't let the house fall apart when we're in a flare. We're already miserable, and living in a mess just adds to our misery. If you have to hire someone and have the ability to do so, do it!
Respect our needs
Respect how we feel about having visitors/guests in our home when we're not well. We're already not feeling well, so adding the stress of having guests in the home can be extremely overwhelming. If you're anything like me, then you probably feel like your house has to look perfect when having anybody visit. Chances are if we're in a flare, it doesn't. And don't tell us that "so-and-so" doesn't care what our house looks like. That doesn't make it better.
Just be there
Just be there for us. Listen to us when we're sad or maybe even angry about our conditions. Comfort us in our weakest moments. Just be a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes all we really need is someone to talk to and really listen.
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?