Having chronic pain sucks. Having people who don’t understand it sucks even more. There is so much information about different autoimmune diseases that can be researched for those who don’t suffer. Get educated! If a friend or a family member has something that they deal with on a regular basis, get to know the disease and the effects of it.
Why? Not for sympathy. The last thing someone dealing with these things needs is more sympathy. Compassion is needed. Understanding is needed. Support and prayer are needed. While we (who suffer) may sound like a broken record, the pain is still real. The discouragement that comes along with it is very real. Feeling like a complete failure sometimes comes with it, too. Not being able to care for your family as you wish completely hurts. Seeing your children do things that you should be doing but can’t because you know the repercussions of it will be worse than sucking up the pain and doing it yourself, sucks!
I know for myself that I don’t really want to talk about it much, but when it’s consuming your thoughts because you are trying to smile through the pain, the sighs and moans just come tumbling out. I am not sure if it is like this for all, but when I speak out, it’s because I can’t take anymore. I have tried to stuff it for so long, that it’s all I can think about. And sometimes I bring it up to a group of people so they know that I’m not just being a complete wretched person. I feel the need to explain why I may not be engaging, why I may not be my fun-loving self.
When I speak about it, I don’t necessarily want sympathy, although sometimes it is nice to hear concern, but sometimes receiving too much is a real issue. Speaking out about it is a moment of vulnerability for me. I may seem like I have a good attitude about it, but sometimes I just want to go in a corner and cry. And I do sometimes. Having chronic illnesses makes me feel like a burden to those close to me. I know that’s a lie, but that’s just the realness of it. Seeing my house become cluttered because my energy level has been zapped, can be overwhelming.
So what do you do for your loved ones who are struggling with stuff like this? You hug them. You love on them. You ask if you can help with anything. You pray for them above all else. And just listen when they do open up about it. Everyone knows that speaking out about hurts heals the heart. Telling someone with cancer to just suck it up or quickly changing the subject to avoid further conversation would not be acceptable, so why is it okay to respond that way to someone who has an “invisible” illness? No one can see my pain. If you meet me around town, you wouldn’t know what I have gone through and continue to go through.
I guess all I’m trying to get out is to be more sensitive. Even if you have heard this a million times. Do you think this person wants to keep asking for prayer or help with mundane tasks? No! But I know that God is bigger than all of this. Ultimately, I seek His love and strength overall, but He placed people in our lives for a reason. I have my good days and bad regarding the pain. I have good days and bad regarding my response to the pain. Today is not a great day and that’s okay. When I am weak, He is strong.
I don’t need responses of, “I’m sorry” and such. I’m just trying to make you aware of how your loved ones may be feeling. Just listen, hug, and pray. Don’t just shrug it off and say, “Here we go again…” because trust me, your loved one has not told you every time they have had to deal with this, only when it’s overwhelming. So imagine how much they are having to stuff on the inside to make your life easier and less complicated.