How to Be a Better Friend to someone with a Chronic Illness

by Krissy Ward

     Trying to cope with disappointment is not uncommon with people suffering a chronic illness. Fibromyalgia stole a lot of things that were important to me, including the loss of friends or people I once considered friends. Fibromyalgia changed my life forever. Your girl went from being an active and socially engaged teenager to a frequent hospital ER visitor. 

     Adjusting to this “new” life has been challenging and I along with those that love me the most are learning new ways to cope every day.
     There are really only two types of illness that the world sees: the ones that don’t take long to get over (i.e. the flu) and the illnesses that are fatal (i.e. cancer). There are little if any discussions around lifelong illnesses, it could be Fibro, Lupus or MS.
     To those of you that have hung in there with us, we appreciate you and for those who are new to this lifestyle, I hope the below tips are helpful.



     I KNOW that getting multiple declined invites may have you thinking we aren’t interested, but nothing is further from the truth. We are sick about having to miss yet another gathering and are most likely having a pity party of our own. We don’t want to let you down and most of all, we do enjoy hanging out and having fun every now and then, it’s just that it it’s very painful to do so. Please don’t be upset if I have to cancel AGAIN. When I am able to go out with you, just know a lot of time, energy and serious consideration went into it. I’m not only giving you my time for that day, but I’m also giving you my time for the day after and most likely, the day after that too because I won’t be able to do anything after having spent a few hours making your party legendary.



     Now, I’m not talking about the millennial definition lol, but seriously, just visit and chill with me. I can’t always go out and kick it, but I’d LOVE it if you considered coming to my home for a visit.



     I’m an EXPERT at pushing people away because of my illnesses. I don’t want to be a burden or feel like a burden anymore than I already do. This goes hand in hand with the first one. We may decline 25 times, but I’m telling you... 26th time is the charm lol. I’m pretty sure that’s the saying. We tend to isolate ourselves, especially during flares. Please reach out to us sometimes, but maybe text first as phone conversations can take a lot of energy for some people.


     If we ever vent to you, just listen. We don’t need you to solve our problems. Just listen. Don’t tell us how strong we are. Most likely, we’re tired of having to be strong ALL of the time, allow us to be vulnerable in that moment. I know you mean well when you tell your friend how much of an inspiration they are, but they may not take it that way. What exactly is inspiring about living with a chronic illness? For some reason, some abled-bodied people tend to find people with disabilities inspirational. We realize you’re trying to be nice or you may actually find us inspiring, but to be honest, we really aren’t here to inspire able-bodied people into being more appreciative of their life.

     If you do decide to visit, bring snacks! We can’t always muster up the energy to go grocery shopping, let alone cook dinner. So yeah, chips, (I like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos) and a bottle (or marijuana, whatever floats your boat) are a great start to a night of me showing you a bunch of funny (to me) YouTube and Instagram videos.