Tips for Family and Friends of Loved Ones with Chronic Pain and Chronic Illness

Do you or someone you know have chronic pain?

I have fibromyalgia, a chronic condition which causes overall pain, extreme fatigue and cognitive difficulties- just to name a few of the symptoms. Coping with chronic pain and chronic illness can be quite overwhelming and can take a toll, not just on the person who is ill, but on family and friends as well. We turn to our friends and family for support, but unless you experience the symptoms yourself, it can be extremely difficult to understand what a person with chronic pain and chronic illness goes through on a regular basis. Here are a few tips to help you navigate through the ups and downs your loved one has to face on a regular basis.

  1. Believe us when we say we are not well. When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, it was very hard convincing some of my family members and friends that I was not well. Hearing phrases like “it’s all in your head” or “get out of the house, you will feel better” were not helpful in any way and made me feel worse about myself. We are not making this up. We are suffering with real pain and illness. Believing and accepting that your loved one is ill shows that you care and will be there for him/her in the long run.
  2. Please stop saying “well you look good.” Chronic illness is called the “invisible illness” for a reason. Even though we may look healthy on the outside, we truly are suffering on the inside, and statements like the above make us feel like you are dismissing or downplaying our illness and subsequent symptoms.
  3. Be patient with us. On really bad days, due to overwhelming pain and fatigue, I can become quite frustrated and irritable and it may be difficult for me to express myself clearly. As a result, the frustration and irritability become even worse. When your loved one starts to rear his/her dark side, try your best to show more patience because that’s usually the time he/she needs you the most.
  4. Ask questions if you don’t understand. As mentioned previously, it can be quite difficult to understand what your loved one experiences so feel free to ask him/her questions. We are more than happy to share our feelings and knowing that you are trying to comprehend what we go through makes us feel loved and supported. This leads me to my next tip.
  5. Show us you care by giving us love and support. There are times when we need physical support and times when we need emotional support. Knowing that we have loved ones who are willing to help in whatever capacity they can, assists us in coping better with our debilitating symptoms.

We recognize how challenging chronic pain and chronic illness can be on our loved ones. If we had a choice, none of them would have to deal with the rollercoaster of emotions and pain we experience regularly. We could not get through this without their assistance and for that we are forever grateful.

Alicia Emamdee is the author of the YA Romance novel, “Aloha Self-Esteem?” which is created specifically for teen girls and the challenges they face with regards to their self-esteem in our society today. Written as a love story, the book provides ways to help increase self-esteem and gain self-confidence.

If you or someone you love needs assistance coping with chronic pain and chronic illness, we can help. We are located in Hollywood, Florida.