The Power of Connection When You Have a Chronic Illness

The Power of Connection When You Have a Chronic Illness 1

A life with debilitating chronic illness can be isolating.

I know this firsthand.

If you’re reading this post, you may also understand the isolation that comes when chronic illness keeps you from living what many would consider a “normal life.”

In this rough season of treating Lyme Disease and other chronic health conditions, the majority of my time has been spent in bed.

At some points, I could barely leave my apartment once a week. My boyfriend would come by with groceries or supper to help get me through the time until I had enough strength to make it out again. Occasionally, another friend would stop by to visit or bring a meal.

I had interaction, but it wasn’t often.

Long weeks of being alone can take a toll on a person.

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Making the Most of Life with a Chronic Illness

Making the Most of LIfe with a Chronic Illness

Life with a chronic illness can be incredibly hard. Most of us who face chronic health issues have one thing in common: our lives do not look the way they did before we got sick. No matter the level of debilitation, the symptoms we face change the way we function.

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5 Ways to Pray for Your Chronically Ill Friend

5 Ways to Pray for Your Chronically Ill Friend

Hello there! If you’ve come here to learn how to pray for your chronically ill friend, I’m really excited that you’re taking this step to be a source of support for them. Here’s a short guide to praying for them. (This guide used to be available by download only, but it’s now in blog post form as well. Here’s the free PDF if you’d like to download it.)

Thank you so much for loving your friend well. They need you!

1) Pray for Physical Healing

Psalm 103:2-3 says, “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases. (NIV)

Let’s remember that the Lord can and does provide physical healing. Pray that the treatment your friend is undergoing would work and that doctors would have wisdom for how to treat. Don’t be afraid to pray that God would intervene and provide healing and relief from the physical pain and other symptoms. Ask God to supernaturally work and take away the physical burdens of the illness.

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An Open Letter to the Friends I Didn’t Text Back

An Open Letter to the Friends I Didn't Text Back

Dear Wonderful Friends of Mine,

I think of you a lot. Often times I’ll catch myself reminiscing about the fun times we’ve had together. We may have been travel buddies, study partners, or teammates. We may have had regular coffee dates throughout college where we’d try to squeeze in a little homework or Bible reading but would end up spending most of the time talking and laughing.

You may be someone I could turn to when depression would get bad and I needed to hang out with someone who was lighthearted.

Because you’re my friend, I appreciate you. No matter what point of life we walked through together, I treasure your friendship and the times we shared.

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So, Your Friend Has a Chronic Illness?

So, Your Friend Has a Chronic Illness?

Hey there,

I’m really glad you’re reading this. Thank you for taking an interest in your friend and being willing to learn more about the crippling effects of chronic illness on their life.

There’s so much your friend wants you to know but probably won’t tell you. It could be because it’s awkward. How do you tell someone that you experience extreme pain every day, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional, and not seem like you’re just complaining or wanting attention.

So, Your Friend Has a Chronic Illness?

Being chronically ill, I have experienced many years of being unable to explain myself. For most of that time, I had no idea what was going on. And, honestly, the pre-diagnosis years of suffering were full of unexplainable highs and lows that left me blaming myself. I thought that I must have been doing something wrong to feel the way I did.

Once my condition became bad enough that I realized a better sleep schedule, some exercise, and a healthy diet wouldn’t fix it, I had to start digging to get to the bottom of what had been causing such grief. Finding out I had chronic Lyme Disease and co-infections was actually a blessing because then I could begin a treatment regimen. It also gave me an explanation to share with others, because previously I had just thought I was crazy.

If your friend suffers from a chronic illness, they need you!

They need people who care about them to be there in both the good times and the bad.

Here are some things you could do to be a better source of support for your chronically ill friend as they walk through life:

1. Believe them

This should be obvious, but, sadly, sometimes it’s not. If your friend has a chronic illness, please believe them. Believe the symptoms they say they have. Just affirming that you recognize that they are struggling means a lot to someone who’s living life with an illness that may be invisible to the outside world.

2. Ask questions

One of the best ways to better understand your friend’s struggle is to ask questions. Ask them what symptoms they experience and what makes them better or worse. Ask what treatment they do. Ask how they’re feeling emotionally about it all. Ask, and then be willing to listen to the answers.

3. Find out what they need

This goes along with asking questions. It would be helpful to ask your friend what tasks are hardest for them to complete with your chronic illness. Perhaps ask their other friends or family members what they have noticed your friend needs. Observe your friend’s life to try to find out what they need and then find a way to help them with it.

4. Spend time with them on their terms

One of the most frustrating things about having a chronic illness is that it can limit one’s ability to do normal social activities. Your friend is still a human being who needs social interaction, but having to go out and about may be too difficult. Go to them, but only if they’re up for it. Be really good about communicating with them to figure out what they actually need.

Suffering from a chronic illness can strip pieces of your friend’s personality from them, so even if they used to be outgoing, they may prefer to be alone at times. They also might not have the energy to talk, and if you come over they’ll exert all that they have stored up. If they want to hang out, be there for them in a way that accommodates their needs.

Here's how to be a good friend to someone with a chronic illness like Lyme Disease, Fibromyalgia, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Relationships are so important! #ChronicIllness

5. Be understanding

I don’t think anyone feels good about having to cancel plans, but it feels even worse when you have to do it for the 10th time. If you make plans with your friend and they cancel over and over again, try your best to be understanding. Your friend genuinely cares about you, but trying to balance the illness with anything else can be a struggle. Try to see the best in your friend because they are doing the best that they can.

6. Don’t assume that everyone with that illness is the same

Humans like to generalize. We like to compare something we don’t know to something that’s familiar. It makes it easier to understand. However, with chronic illness, it’s important to be aware that every situation is different. Even if you know or have heard of someone else who suffers from the same illness, don’t assume that those cases will be the same.

It’s hard being chronically ill and hearing others talk about how this person they know got better really quickly or that person they know used some treatment that worked for them. More education can be beneficial, but when “success stories” are offered without care and understanding for my individual situation, I feel that my pain isn’t being validated and that the other person isn’t recognizing the extent of the grief I feel.

Each person’s body responds to treatment differently, so I’d rather hear that someone is there for me instead of have them throw out a new measuring stick of comparison from which to judge my progress.

7. Be consistent

Those with chronic illnesses can have a hard time keeping friendships. Not feeling up to going out can put a damper on their social life. If you are their friend, be a consistent friend. Even if they don’t reply to every text message, check in with them to see how they are doing. If you generally meet up with them, keep doing it. Let them know that you are there for them by both your words and your actions.

8. Be supportive of their significant other or family

Your chronically ill friend’s significant other or family likely has the biggest burden to carry as they care for your friend. It isn’t easy to care for someone who is dealing with severe pain. The roller coaster of emotions your friend is dealing with can be a lot for a loved one to handle. Connect with your friend’s significant other or family to see what they need. Maybe try to spend extra time with your friend so that their loved ones can have a small break to be refreshed. Chronic illness doesn’t just affect the person who is sick. It affects those closest to them.

9. Offer spiritual support

Pray for your friend and for their significant other or family. As a Christian, it means a lot to me when I hear that others are praying for me during times of need. Because of their illness, it may be difficult for your friend to make it to church or Bible study. If that’s the case, bring a mini Bible study to them. I have a great friend who offered to do a devotional with me. Sometimes we spend time talking about what God had been teaching us and praying together when she comes over. It means a lot to have people who care for my spiritual well-being.

If you’re unsure how to pray for your friend who is suffering from a chronic illness, read this post. I’d love to help walk you through how to pray bold, specific prayers so that you can support and encourage them during this journey!

These are just some of the ways you can offer support to a friend who is battling a chronic illness. Above all, the most important thing you can do is be present. Observe and see what your friends needs. Recognize that they are suffering and let them know that they are valued.

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Thank you so much for reading! By the way, I’d love to give you a free copy of my eBook Finding Hope Through the Fog. In it I share openly about my struggles with chronic illness. It can help you better understand what your friend may be going through!

Download your FREE copy of Finding Hope Through the Fog today and you'll get:

  1. The story of my battle with chronic Lyme Disease
  2. Practical application questions and scripture to bring hope
  3. Encouragement for your journey
  4. Personal prayer support at any time!
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Should We Really Tell Others We’re Praying For Them?

We’ve all seen it on social media. A friend is going through a personal struggle and asks for prayer. Tens, if not, hundreds, of their friends chime in with sentiments such as “I’m so sorry you’re going through this! I’m keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.” They might say they love the person or that they are always there if their friend needs anything.

Should We Really Tell Others We're Praying for Them

Those who comment have good intentions. They truly feel bad and want to help in some way. Prayer seems to be the easiest way to extend a helping hand.

After the moment passes and they continue scrolling through their feed, they might forget about the request. Thoughts of the person they had said they’d pray for may later re-enter their mind. They’ll think of the situation or wonder how the person is doing. But, did they ever stop to pray?

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