6.06.2014

Speaking LIFE to Someone with Chronic Pain

During the past 4 years of living with chronic pain and an autoimmune disease, I've dealt with multiple healthcare "professionals," outsiders who think I'm a hypochondriac, and discouraging, ignorant people who simply like to discount the importance of the things + a pain that they have never experienced, therefore cannot possibly understand.

During those same 4 years, however, I have also formed some really incredible friendships and I've had some life changing and beyond encouraging conversations. For every time I have been offended or hurt by something someone has said to me in regards of the chronic pain I feel on a daily basis, there have been 10 other things that have encouraged and given me the strength I need to keep fighting.

At times, chronically ill or not, we are ALL offended and discouraged by the words of others. It is a fact of life. I will be the first to admit that I've even been the initiator of discouraging words at times. Hurt people, hurt people. That statement rings true, I know. But there comes a point when those discouraging words must cease to exist. There comes a time when speaking life becomes vital.

Now, what I'm sharing today isn't meant to be force fed. I'm not asking anyone to take these 5 text messages I've received (and found helpful) and incorporate them word for word into their daily dialogue with others suffering from autoimmune disease or chronic pain. I'm only asking that you would read these words, recognize the compassion within them, and use them to better form your responses to conversations in the future.

1.) Get excited about the GOOD days. Sometimes, especially during particularly tough seasons, GOOD days are few and far between. Celebrate those good days, but don't discount the bad days in the process. Also remember that because of the instability of our immune systems, things can change quickly. Bear with us. Stay excited. Do your best to be encouraging no matter what kind of day it is.



2.) Remind the sufferer that they are strong enough to fight. It may sound cliche, but as someone who fights an autoimmune disease regularly... Day in and day out... It's easy to fall into the redundancy of it all. No day is the same, but one thing that doesn't change is the relentless pain. A simple reminder of the strength it takes to fight MATTERS.


3.) Out-of-the-blue encouragement. This is by far the most efficient, tangible, and meaningful form of encouragement in my book. It has gotten me through days and nights when I wanted nothing more than to give up completely. Sending a short text message takes seconds and can completely turn a day around.


4.) Humor... At the right time. One of my best friends has NAILED this form of encouragement. On injection nights or during vent sessions, she is able to make me giggle through the pain that has the ability to engulf every part of me. At the right time, humor can be incredibly beneficial. It tends to keep me more grounded than anything and it helps me to remember that there is a bigger picture beyond the here and now!


5.) Just. Be. There. Contrary to popular belief, there doesn't have to be a solution or a "fix" to help patients, just like me, through the pain the pain we experience on a daily basis. Simply letting the sufferer know that you care, are there to listen, and will continue to be with them along the way is more than beneficial. As a supporter, literally all you need to say is:


A simple, "Even though I don't know what you're going through, I'm here and I care," is enough to make the world of a difference.

Encourage. Listen. Laugh. Simply be there... And make that world of a difference with your words through speaking LIFE. 


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5 comments:

Kenji said...

This is always hard for my friends and people around me. They tell me constantly they don't know what to say or do, and it's just so simple as letting us know they care. It's helps us get through the bad days and relish in the good. Love this post girl!

Jamie Vespa said...

People have a tendency of not realizing that even when you can't see it, everyone is going through something. Whether an illness or a personal struggle or anything in between. And so it's important to be kind and not judge them for what you cannot see or understand!

Alan Brewington said...

Just.be.there. Is my favorite. People don't always have to say or do something. Sometimes just knowing there are more people standing with me is all I want to know!!!

Ashley said...

These are such good tips! I have a friend who has been dealing with something similar and I love these ways to be there for her!

Amanda aka Manda said...

I love this post! Especially since I struggle at times too! Such a great reminder for people with an illness or not be a lover/encourager!