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11 things NOT to say to someone with a chronic illness!

Everyone who lives with a chronic illness knows that there comes a certain point when you just can’t stand one more person saying ‘you don’t look sick’, or ‘maybe you should think before you eat that.’ You also become accustomed to the looks that you get, the ones when you don’t have the energy to drag yourself out of bed and they look at you like you’re lazy, or when you have to pause in the middle of something to ride out a wave of pain and they tut like you couldn’t even complete one task properly. 
I thought this blog should focus on things not to say to someone who suffers from a chronic illness. So find below 11 things you should probably think twice before saying:

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1.) You don’t look sick. 
The majority of chronic illness’s are INVISIBLE meaning you can’t see whats going on inside. If they have managed to drag themselves out and made themselves look half decent then they are stronger than you will ever imagine. 
2.) Everyone gets tired or you’re just lazy. 
I put these two together because usually the person saying it means both. Yes everyone does get tired and yes every now and then some people may need an early night or an afternoon nap, but fatigue through a chronic illness is not the same thing. I have to plan my day minute to minute so I can make sure I have the energy to do it. Sometimes driving the 10 minutes to visit my grandparents for a cup of tea takes it out of me. Some day’s I don’t even have the energy to stand in the shower, it makes everything ten times difficult, brushing your hair, putting on makeup, getting dressed, every single daily task is  fight against the fatigue. 
3) It must be nice not having to go to work. 
This one really annoys me!! You are fighting every day against your body, every task is hard and you feel like you don’t have any control over anything. You live your life through hospital appointments, treatments and consultant appointments. You need some independence and the opportunity to earn your own income and know that for however long you were there you took control over your disease and won. 
I loved working and hated having to be off, being at work often proved to be a distraction, like acting out life as another character, paint the smile on your face and pretend to everyone you’re fine. Instead you sit at home day in day out trying to find mindless things to take your mind off the pain, the sickness and the loneliness. I would give anything to trade my symptoms and be able to go back to full time work! 
4.) You should do more exercise. 
Exercise speeds up your metabolism it helps you get a sweat on and release them nice little things in your body called endorphins. I know. When I feel like my body is able to do exercise I enjoy doing it but it’s not a cure for my crohn’s and the lack of it is definitely not a contributing factor to a bad day. My immune system attacks itself, no amount of squats can change that!
5.) I wish I could take naps. 
This is as bad as those people who say how nice it must be not to work. Trust me at the age of 25 I didn’t imagine living my life this way. I don’t look forward to the fact that thanks to my medication I was up pacing round my room until the early hours of the morning trying to fight off horrific heart burn and overwhelming nausea, I don’t like the fact that just as I was falling asleep the restless leg syndrome, again one of the lovely side effects of my medication, kicks into action and wakes me up, I hate the fact that just by getting up, showered and making breakfast I feel like I have to take a nap. You wish you had that? Because by wishing you had the time to take a nap you have to take everything else that goes with it.
6.) Maybe you should just look on things a bit more positively. 
Ah the power of positive thinking. I’v heard this so many times before. In the last seven months I’ve suffered the worst flair ever, I lost my job, I lost my home, I had to move away from my boyfriend and I gained a stone in weight thanks to the medications I had to go on. Believe me I try and think positively about everything but hearing ‘everything happens for a reason’ or ‘don’t worry things will soon start looking up, you just need to start thinking more positively’ makes me want to bitch slap you a little bit. I can’t think positively about my illness because that’s just pain, sickness, medication, fatigue and loss of independence. But I can feel positive about those things that I wouldn’t have because of my illness, I have found an amazing support group through facebook called #GetYourBellyOut, it is a social media campaign set up by four fantastic founders and it has saved my life. It is a place for people or their families who suffer IBD we are there for each other, we help and support each other through our bad times and we celebrate and praise each other through our good times, we are a family and if I didn’t have Crohn’s I wouldn’t have these amazing people in my life. I have a boyfriend who has stood by my side throughout everything. He has seen me in my lowest and darkest times and he has never turned his back on me, his support has never wavered. I know without a shadow of a doubt that regardless of my crohn’s I would be spending the rest of my life with him but because of my crohn’s and the never ending love he has shown me I have a deeper love and sense of appreciation for this man than I ever witnessed in disney movies!!
7.) Just test yourself and your limits. 
This has been said to me a few times before, in fact it’s been said that many times that I have found myself saying it to other people, even though I know it’s not true. People tell you that maybe you have been sitting in the house for so long that you don’t know what you can handle unless you go out and push the boundaries. I hate to tell you but I do know my boundaries and on good day’s I will try and push them because when I’m feeling good I want to get out there and catch up on all the things I’v been missing. But there are going to be days when all I can manage is shuffling from bed to sofa to bathroom and back again, it’s not what I want but it’s all I can manage.
8.) My friend has … and she eats/drinks/does … 
I know you think that this is good advice because you have seen it work in others but the most frustrating thing for someone living with a chronic illness is that they are all so different and something that works for one person isn’t going to work for someone else. Personally I have given up gluten, dairy, meat, sugar, drank aloe vera and god only knows what because they have been successful for others. I admit some have helped but others haven’t and I know that you’re only trying to help but chances are if i’ve seen it somewhere i’ve probably already tried it, because no one wants to find a magic cure as much as the person living with the chronic illness. Truth is the only person who is ever going to know what does/will help is the person who has the disease. 
9.) You should give up/stop … 
You should give up smoking, you should stop drinking, you should go gluten free, don’t eat sugar. Introduce calcium and iron, take multivitamins, eat more salt, eat less salt. The list is endless believe me and I’m going to be frank with this one, it goes in one ear and out the other. 
10). You take too many medications. 
This is a tough one because it’s split down the middle, some people believe medications are necessary, others say that they don’t provide anything you can’t get from a natural source. Someone with a chronic illness doesn’t enjoy popping pills every day trust me, the side effects of the different medications are sometimes harder to live with than the disease. The steroids which pile on the weight, stop your from sleeping, make you constantly hungry and send your emotions so far out of whack they’re spinning round mars! The pain relief that makes you feel sick, dizzy, confused, fuzzy headed, makes your muscles spasm, makes you tired and yet unable to sleep. Personally I’m on humira which is a type of chemotherapy and suppresses my immune system so chances are i’m going to pick up any little bug, cold or infection. I have to take calcium supplements because the steroids lower it, others have to have sodium, iron, B12. We don’t want to pop pills like candy or rattle when we walk but if it’s the difference between being able to make it out of bed and have a relatively pain free day then I’m sorry I’m going to take the medication. 
11.) Are you sure your not constipated? 
There was only supposed to be 10 but then tonight this beaut cropped up and it has been said to me so many times recently I think I might just lose it! Throughout this flare up I have been in and out of hospital and one of the things that has been said is that the right hand side of my bowel has been blocked up which hasn’t helped other problems. Now every time any sort of pain or flare starts I get asked ‘Are you sure your not constipated?’ I don’t really have a big point to point answer to this one except, YES I’M SURE!!!!!!

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