Living with chronic pain takes a major toll on a sufferer’s personal life. Friends, family, and other kinds of social support are vital to the quality of our lives. Cancelled plans, physical limitations, undone chores, and feeling like a guinea pig are all pretty depressing. But the one thing that can instantly make us feel better is compassion from another human being.
If you know someone with chronic pain, there are simple ways to show them that you care and that you are there for them. Here are six things that anyone with chronic pain would love to hear.
- “I believe you.” Chronic pain sufferers have weird stuff wrong with our bodies and it hurts. We’re human beings in pain. Having friends and family tell us that they believe us is the most supportive thing we could ever hear.
- “Rescheduling is absolutely okay!” When plans have to be cancelled because someone isn’t feeling well, that person feels guilty. Chronic pain sufferers live with an indescribable amount of guilt, and when that pain affects someone else in a negative way, that guilt cranks up to 11. Telling us that it’s okay that we have to reschedule plans makes us feel like our condition has less of an impact on your life.
- “Let’s hang out at your place this time.” Bathing, medicating, getting dressed, and attempting to look human are exhausting enough… and then we have to leave the house! Bars, the movies, restaurants, and parties can have elements that make our condition worse. Take the pressure off by planning a quiet evening at our place. Pajamas and movies? YES PLEASE!
- “I have some free time this week and I’d like to help you with shopping/ laundry/ cooking/ chores.” Getting things done can be tough when we hurt! Think about a time you had a cold. Did you accomplish much during that time? Chronic pain sufferers face many challenges that can prevent us from doing the most basic of chores. We probably won’t ask for help, but if you’re offering…
- “It’s not your fault.” Did I mention our guilt? Many chronic pain sufferers attend therapy to cope with the negative feelings surrounding our conditions. But the feeling that our condition rules our lives, and the lives of those closest to us never really goes away. Reassure us but reminding us that you know we didn’t choose the pain and we don’t deserve the pain.
- “You are not a burden.” Being the friend or family member of someone with chronic pain may mean that you’re pulling double duty in many areas of your life to help us with ours. We know that we’re a lot of work, but we constantly worry that we’re resented. Reminding us that you do things because you love us goes a long way towards helping us feel less like a weight on your shoulders.