One of the downfalls of having a chronic health issue – or even intermittent health issues is that you will receive opinions. Some come from a place where the person giving their opinion lacks compassion because they have not been there, but most are really well-meaning. The ones you need to listen to, are the ones that know you best and have tread the difficult waters of illness with you.
I recently received a get well card from some people I knew years ago. They never really made the effort to support me or even be that kind to me, but things have changed.
I was 20 when I knew them, most people at that age have not dealt with real illness by and they just are not in a place to show their support. I used to take this personally but after receiving a card from these people over 15 years later I reflected on my memories of them. I also was aware that not long ago they had a child that had to deal with a very serious illness. In the 15 years during this time, they have seen (in the most difficult way) how painful that can be (there is nothing worse than having a small child in the hospital). The card I received from them was probably one of the nicest, genuine and supportive cards I have ever received and it made me realize a couple of things:
The second category of people are the people who really want the best for you but go about it the wrong way. They give you opinions from the sidelines – they may have had an illness but not the same kind, and will give you advice based on their own experience not thinking about the major differences between you and them. I find even some of my closest of friends go into this mode when I am sick – they tend to lecture instead of empathize. They aren’t truly listening but to make them feel better sometimes you just let them talk. They have good intentions – but on difficult days they can take any energy left from you by providing opinions on what you should do. I really would listen to these people more if they stopped by and visited more, or made a meal or any of those things. But bottom line is, they do care, they just don’t truly understand – and as much as that can be frustrating – they still mean well (and shockingly, there are times they wont tell you how to handle your illness).
The last group of people – I call my people. They may or may not have had an illness, but they want to understand – they will listen to every complaint, every thought, and give you space when you need to rest. If they give advice (which is rare), you do listen, because you know they know you best during this time. They have done the hard yards. You can count on them 100%. Sometimes there may be just one person in your life that will be this person, if you are lucky maybe more. These people you know are friends for life, they aren’t just around during the good times, but there for the difficult times too. BUT THERE IS STILL ONE VERY IMPORTANT PERSON LEFT…
YOU!! If you are anything like me, you can be your harshest critic. This is a lesson I am learning right now. To give myself a break. When I am unwell I tell myself I am lazy – I’m not lazy – I’m sick, but that word goes through my head. You need to be able to sit and rest, take a nap, take meds/vitamins, be in tune with what lifts your spirits and put your effort into that. That is your assignment! You need to be part of your own support team. Be good to yourself. There is only one of you! You need to know yourself well enough to know what can trigger thoughts of anger, discouragement, depression, and to find a way to replace it with a thought of love, kindess, and Joy. You are the most important person in your own support team, and without you as the foundation – none of the other people in your team can support you.
Hope you have a great health day.