Do you have a friend with chronic illness? Do you want to make them feel worse? No, I don’t think you do. You probably want to make them feel better. If that’s the case, you really shouldn’t do the things on this list. But, there’s a good chance that no matter how much you love them you’ve done one of these things. You probably thought you were helping. What you didn’t realize is that you actually made them feel worse.
Please consider each of these and do your best to avoid doing any of them to your friend.
Tell them they should get out more – Your friend wants to get out more. They hate having to cancel plans. So, telling them they should get out more is sure to make them feel guilty and stressed out. You mean well, you hate seeing them cooped up at home. They hate being cooped up at home even more. They get out as much as they feel they can. Unfortunately, they have to prioritize things like doctors appointments and grocery runs over fun events with you. Instead of telling them to get out more, next time go hang with them where they are.#HowToPissOffaSpoonie Tell them they should get out more. Click To Tweet
Comment on their messy house – Chronic illness brings chronic pain and fatigue. Those two things can make everyday tasks very difficult. Your friend is doing as much as they can to keep their home clean, and they feel guilty that it’s not enough. They see the mess, and it just makes them feel worse. When you comment on their messy house all you are doing is making them feel guilty and embarrassed. Want to make sure they never invite you in again? Make a comment about their home. Instead, of commenting about the mess, ask if there’s anything you can do to help.
Comment on how lazy they are – Your friend just hangs out at home and watches TV all day and you are jealous, so make sure to let them know. Telling your friend they are lazy is a quick way to piss them off and shut them down. Your friend isn’t lazy. In fact, they are probably already doing more than they should. Calling them lazy won’t get them to do more because they are already doing all that they can, but it will encourage them to avoid you. If you are at a point where you feel it’s alright to make a statement like this about your friend, you aren’t really their friend.#HowToPissOffaSpoonie Tell them how lazy they are. Click To Tweet
Tell them they just need to push themselves harder – Your friend is pushing themselves every day. Often, just getting out of bed is more than they feel they can do. Pushing won’t help them feel better, in fact it usually makes them feel worse because of something called post-exertional malaise. Even though malaise sounds like something akin to laziness, it’s not. It’s a real medical issue that often comes with chronic illness. Your friend has to pace herself so that she can do as much as she can, and trust me she is doing all that she can. Telling her that she should push herself more will cause her to resent you. Instead, focus on what she is doing and how hard she is trying.#HowToPissOffaSpoonie Tell them they should push themselves harder. Click To Tweet
Make them feel like their illness is all their fault – When you tell your friend that all they have to do is change their habits, diet, etc you are telling them that their bad choices caused their illness. While making changes may make them feel better in the long run, you telling them what choices to make won’t make them change. It will cause frustration and make them feel guilty. Instead of continually pushing them to change, commend and encourage the healthy choices they make.#HowToPissOffaSpoonie Make them feel like their illness is their fault. Click To Tweet
Discount their symptoms and feelings – Telling your friend that their pain and fatigue is just a sign of getting older, or making comments like “we all get tired sometimes” discounts how they feel. It also lets your friend know that you don’t believe what they are experiencing is real. These types of comments leave your friend feeling dismissed and as if you don’t really care about them or what they are going through.#HowToPissOffaSpoonie Remind them that we all get tired sometimes. Click To Tweet
Talk instead of listen – When you always talk about yourself and never give your friend a chance to share how they are feeling it lets your friend know that you aren’t interested in them. It reminds him to be quiet and keep his feelings to himself. No one wants to be around someone who talks about themselves non-stop. Your friend may be an excellent listener but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to share as well.#HowToPissOffaSpoonie Never take time to listen to how they feel. Talk about yourself instead. Click To Tweet
Be passive aggressive – Comments like “We never see you anymore. It gets lonely out here.”, “We understand you don’t feel well; guess we’ll just stay home, too.”, or “You’re just using this as an excuse not to work.” are sure to piss off your friend. These comments leave your friend feeling guilty and frustrated because they know you can continue to live life however you choose, and instead you are making their illness about you.#HowToPissOffaSpoonie Be passive aggressive. They love that. Click To Tweet
Stop including them in plans – Why do you even bother asking your friend to join you anymore when they are always too tired/ sick to come out anyway? It’s not like they want to be included just to feel like you care (they do, by the way). When you stop including your friend in plans it tells them that you’ve given up on them, that you are no longer interested. It also makes them feel like you don’t care. When they realize that no one else cares and everyone has given up on them they will soon give up as well. Even if they haven’t said yes in a year, continue to include your friend in invites. Allow them to pencil in fun on their calendar, even if they have to cancel at the last minute.Wanna make your #chronicallyill friend feel worse? Stop including them in your plans, and assume they weren't interested anyway. #HowToPissOffaSpoonie Click To Tweet
Keep asking them how they feel – Be sure to ask them how they feel as often as possible because it’s bound to change from moment to moment. They can’t possibly feel that bad constantly, right? Every time you ask your friend how they feel, they are reminded of how they feel. Your friend doesn’t want to be reminded about how bad they feel, they just want to enjoy their time with you and be distracted from it. Instead, help them keep their mind off the pain, distract them, and bring joy into their life.
Talk really loud – Chances are your ill friend isn’t deaf, so there’s no need to speak up. Speaking really loud only serves to make them feel like you think they are deaf or stupid, and can’t understand you. While you are at it be sure to bring your screaming children over to visit to make you friend feel awful really fast. Many chronic illnesses also cause increased sensitivity to noise so your loud voice will wear them out faster, ending your time together. The increased sensitivity that often comes with chronic illness is one of the reasons your friend tires easily from noisy, bright, active places. Keep this in mind when you spend time together and opt for quiet places without a lot of distractions.
Make them feel guilty – There are a million ways you can make a friend feel guilty, and if you are a good friend you know just how to do it. Commenting on how you had to come to them because they couldn’t get out, how dirty their house is, what they should do, need to do, or could do are just a few of the ways to quickly make them feel guilty. It really doesn’t take much at all because your friend is already living in a perpetual state of guilt as a result of their illness.
Just a reminder, these are all things you shouldn’t do. I wrote this a bit tongue-in-cheek and it should be taken that way. The advice is real. I hope you would not want to do any of these things and that you would not want to make your chronically ill friend (or loved one) feel worse. Keep these as reminders, so that you can avoid these actions. Repeatedly doing any of these things will result not only in guilt, frustration, and embarrassment of your friend, but will eventually result in losing that friend.
Working on an upcoming blog post. What are some things that your friends/family do that make you feel worse (mentally or physically)? (I may include your answer in the post)