Ways to Show a Friend with Fibro You Care
Because fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, people often forget or tend to forget, ignore, or gloss over the fact that the afflicted are indeed ill. Sometimes a little extra support and understanding is in order, and it doesn't take much to show a friend with fibro that you care, you are thinking of them, and you are taking their syndrome into consideration.
Here is a list of things you can do to show your friend with fibromyalgia, or any chronically ill friend, that you care:
- Ask her to explain to you what it is like to have her condition. What is most frustrating? How does she deal with the bad days? How has it changed her outlook on life and day-to-day activities? Listen to the answers and try to understand her point of view. Ask for clarification.
- If you know she is flaring or depressed, or just because, send her a get-wll card of gift. It doesn't have to be anything big, just something to shoe that you are thinking of her and wish her well. However, don't put stress on the "get well" part because she won't. Instead stress the "feel better" aspect of the message.
- She may be unwilling to ask for help, but chances are she would appreciate it. Avoid asking what you can do and instead think of something you know would help her out and ask if it's ok for you to do it.
- Recognize that chronic pain and fatigue can make anyone irritable at times, and if she seems irritable, it's nothing personal.
- Be flexible when making plans and don't make her feel guilty if she cannot do something or must reschedule a date due to her condition.
- If you visit, be an easygoing guest. Don't expect to be entertained and be prepared to do things for her if wanted. If you expect too much, this will only give her unneeded stress. Your company in just sitting quietly and reading a book is appreciated.
- Ask if you can run an errand for her before visiting.
- Don't assume she can't do something without asking first.
- Keep her diability in mind when making plans and make sure that venues or situations you choose will be accessible and friendly to her condition.
- Drop prepared food or homemade food in Tupperware containers at her house. But make sure you know what she can and cannot eat beforehand since people with fibro often have strict diets.
- Invite her to a spontaneous event. Although it may seem like she can't go anywhere without a lot of planning, if you catch her on a good day she will know right away if she can go.
- Let her know that she can talk to you and you will listen. And actually listen, and just listen. Chronically ill people often have a lot they want to get off their chest but they feel they will burden others with their concerns and frustrations.
- Be a shoulder for her to cry on and no matter how trivial something may see to you, it is a big deal for her.
- Do some research of your own into her condition to better understand her symptoms and treatments. If you find anything that may help her let her know in an no-pressure way.
- Be her advocate. If you are at an event and there is an issue because of her disability, speak up!
- Don't mineralize or trivialize her symptoms, and don't pretend or think that you know or understand exactly what she is going through.
- Remember the carers. These are people who may devote a lot of time or energy caring for a loved one with a chronic illness. These people could use a little extra emotional support too, even if it's just asking "aow are you?" or offering to take over their care duties for a couple hours.