How to help a chronically ill person

For those of us with thyroid disease and other chronic illnesses it can be a challenge to deal with others socially. Our emotions are constantly being manipulated by our thyroid hormones, and  we can be suffering from chronic fatigue and exhaustion. Our friends sometimes will start to dwindle because what we have just doesn’t go away and goes on and on. Some days are good ones and some are bad, and sometimes we have entire weeks or months that we have to rest. Sometimes plans made out in advance have to be canceled last minute due to our health deciding that day to take a nose dive.

Those who are the loved ones of a thyroid patient or other chronic illness, it can be difficult for them as well. They will want to help, but there is a fine line between helping a person and making them feel like they can’t do anything for themselves. Depending on what current health issues are hindering a person, different things can be done to help that will not offend a person having the illness. We still want to be seen as useful, productive members of society, even if we cannot do everything we used to all of the time. Sometimes people will try to do everything for us instead of let us try to do things at our own pace and it can hurt our feelings and our pride.

Instead here are some things you can do.

1. Find out if they want company. A lot of us end up being isolated because our constant state of being unwell or less than optimal can drive people away, and the mood swings that go along with thyroid disease can make it difficult to keep people around. If someone offers to just come by even for a few minutes or an hour and just hang out and talk, it will mean the world to someone.

2. If someone has been down a lot recently, find out if they are needing someone to help them go shopping. Maybe they would love to have someone take their list and take them to the store, so they can save their energy for picking out their foods. Maybe it would help to get a list and then pick up a few things from the store, so they can save their energy for other things.

3. Offer to come by and cook them dinner for themselves or for their family, giving them the chance to relax and rest and get away from stress for a short time. Or offer to bring them some tasty carryout to help them out with meals.

4. Just be willing to let them talk and listen to them without judging. When you don’t feel well often, it takes a toll on your ability to be social and it also can hurt your self esteem when people do not come around as often.

5. Ask them if there is any chore, no matter how small you can help with to help them out. If so, ask how they want help with it, and try to do it their way the best that you can.

6. Do NOT try to take over and do something for them without asking.Do not accuse them of being lazy, or unmotivated if their house isn’t in tip top shape or their laundry isn’t all done. Chronic illness takes a lot out of most of us. Some of us only get a few hours or days at most when we feel better to do things, and other people can add to that burden of guilt we already feel.

7. Do NOT act like the person is stupid or try to over exaggerate what you ask, we are not stupid, we are sick. Do NOT try to avoid touching us either.  Most of us who have chronic conditions are also not contagious in any way,and a lot of us are starved for hugs (though please ask before hugging, sometimes people are fragile and hugs can hurt if they are in pain that day).

Communication can go a long way to helping out your friend or loved one with a thyroid disease. Try to have open conversations about what they are going through and their personal challenges. Do not be afraid to ask what you can do to help, or how can you talk about things to make them better for the both of you. We have a lot to offer other people in return and you won’t be sorry.

Return to Warrior Butterfly Britney page


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