A couple of friends have been asking me to write a blog post about things that us MSers would like to hear from our friends and family. Living with Multiple Sclerosis, or any other Chronic Illness for that matter, is not a joke. It’s REAL. I always see articles about things that you should NOT say to someone living with a chronic illness – but what about things that you SHOULD say? To those who are friends or family with someone affected by any chronic illness, here are some things to say to them so that they know you support them!
1. I Believe You
We deal with 95+ invisible symptoms on a daily basis. Keyword: INVISIBLE. You cant see them. So just because you cant see our pain, doesn’t mean we don’t feel it. When we complain about the pins and needles in our feet, or the electric shocks that go up and down our backs, or even the blurry/fuzzy vision we get, please don’t look at us as complainers. Yes, we can be ‘that sick’. I don’t like to use the word ‘complain’ – it’s more like venting. If you had to deal with invisible symptoms, you would understand. We don’t fake these things. So please just believe us.
2. I’m Here For You
We need to know that we have support from our loved ones. We need to know that you are not going to abandon us. Re-assure us that you’re not going anywhere. Imagine being or feeling alone. Now add a chronic illness on top of that. How would you feel? Friends and family are supposed to be there for you through thick and thin, so show us that you will always be a shoulder to lean on. This way we know who our support system is.
3. Tell Me About Multiple Sclerosis/I Want To Know What You’re Going Through
In order to be a true supporter, you need to know every thing you can about the disease. Here’s one thing that would mean the world to us MS patients. How about you Google it? Visit the MS Society of Canada or The National MS Society and read up on it. Look at YouTube videos of real life experiences. Follow MS organizations on various social medias – which is an awesome way to show us you’re thinking of us! We don’t want to put you on downers, but sometimes it would be nice to hear you say you want to learn about our lives with an illness.
4. You Are So Strong
Yes we are! Here’s a quote I absolutely love!
The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us – but those who fight battles we know nothing about.
However, we don’t feel strong. We feel weak and fatigued every day. Do you know how hard it was to take a shower this morning? Yes, IT CAN BE THAT HARD! Heres a fun fact: it takes up to 5 times more energy for a person with MS (or any other Chronic Illness) to do the most simplest task than those without an illness. Imagine you had weights attached to every limb on your body. Now go ahead and do your daily routine with those weights. See how strong we are? It would be so delightful if we heard that from our friends and family.
5. You Don’t Deserve This/It’s Not Your Fault
No one deserves to live with Multiple Sclerosis or a Chronic Illness. But things happen right? Sometimes we do tend to blame ourselves. “Maybe if I ate more fruits and veggies”, “Maybe if I exercised more”, “Maybe if I did this instead of that”. Although there are theories, there is no known cause of MS. It’s natural that we sometimes ask ourselves “What if I did that differently?”. We need to be told by our loved ones that we don’t deserve this or it’s not our fault.
Hearing these things would re-assure us that we have a strong and comforting support system. It’s the little things that count with us. The above statements are NOT the only things you should say to someone living with Multiple Sclerosis or a Chronic Illness. Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions. What do you think is the most important thing to say to somebody living with a disease?