For those who do not have a chronic illness, I am going to share eight extraordinary things about people with chronic illness that you need to know. May this list encourage you to understand their plight and their incredible passion to live despite their struggling. May it open a new perspective for you to consider. May it help you understand what they endure. May it inspire you to appreciate the people in your life who have chronic illness — and tell them how much you admire them.
For those who are reading this list and you live a life of chronic illness —
This one’s for you.
1. People with chronic illness have a profound strength to manage life while in pain.
They have a relentless will to live, so they must dive deep into their reservoir of strength to mine more of it every single day they are faced with the challenges of their pain. They don’t give up, despite the debilitating symptoms they experience. They push through and grab hold of what they can to find fulfillment in every day. This type of endurance and perseverance proves to be an ongoing battle that can result in profound fortitude.
Reach out to them and acknowledge their incredible strength, would you?
2. People with chronic illness tend to have an astute awareness of other people’s pain.
Because they have endured their own difficult road of affliction, they may be more in tune to the people around them. They can have extraordinary empathy and compassion for others and a deep understanding of adversity and hardship, so they can truly appreciate someone else’s struggles. When someone is hurting, they are often the first to respond and console because they know the significance of having support.
3. People with chronic illness may have a unique perspective on life.
They are constantly challenged to find meaning and fulfillment within their own limitations, and they may celebrate simple things that others take for granted. They can have an exceptional admiration for life experiences, because they often live within the confines of their captivity — unable to live an active life. They may learn to look for the gifts in every day with great vigilance.
Reach out to them and tell them how you are inspired by their perspective, would you?
4. People with chronic illness often don’t tell people when they are struggling.
Because they are sick so often, they may not want to burden others regularly. They might struggle alone because they hate to make people feel uncomfortable or obligated in any way. Many times, you might notice they disappear for a time – they could miss regular events, social activities, or friends and family gatherings. This is often when they are trying to manage their symptoms and are too sick to do much else. Their disappearance sometimes goes unnoticed. This is quite possibly the hardest part of being chronically ill. They desperately want to join you.
5. People with chronic illness live a secret life of struggling.
They may not look sick at all, but underneath their appearance there is a person fighting fiercely to be well. They may fall apart as soon as they get home, after keeping the facade for hours wherever they were. They may have taken enough medicine just to get them through the day. They may mask their pain with smiles so others won’t notice their struggling. They likely don’t want to be seen as sick all the time, so they may try hard to present themselves as “OK”… and often, they are not.
Reach out to them and ask them how they’re really doing. Then listen, with empathy and love, would you?
6. People with chronic illness need you to check on them.
They often feel uncomfortable reaching out for help or support because they may feel people have more important things to do. Many are sure people are tired of hearing about their sickness/disease, so they stop telling their family and friends about their struggles. They hate what they are enduring, and wish things were different.
Reach out to them and assure them you are not tired of hearing about their struggles (and genuinely mean it). Ask them how you can help them, would you?
7. People with chronic illness can fail to follow through on commitments.
While they want so desperately to live a full life connecting with others and showing up when they say they will, people with chronic illness don’t have the privilege of knowing how they will feel each and every day. They may wish they could be more predictable, but their illness controls the outcome. If they fail you, please understand that they are more disappointed than you could ever be. They have to live with the anguish of letting you down on top of the physical pain they endure. All they have is hopeful intention and often it is met with utter defeat.
Reach out to them and tell them you absolutely understand and ask to reschedule for when they are feeling better, would you?
8. People with chronic illness need to know they are loved unconditionally, because you cannot place conditions on them.
While most of the world and the people in it operate on performance and productivity, many people who have chronic illness cannot measure their worth in this way. Some days, they may feel they are of no value because they couldn’t do anything productive besides manage their illness. They can feel useless and insignificant to the world around them. They must learn to love themselves without expectations, and you must, too.
Reach out to them and tell them how valuable they are, just as they are, would you?
People who endure long-suffering are in all of our lives. Let’s make sure we walk alongside them with the love and support they deserve.
Who has chronic illness in your life?
Make sure you reach out, and tell them they are something special, would you?
Christine’s book “Help and Hope While You’re Healing” can be found on Amazon.