The Struggles Of Dealing With A Non-Visible Long-Term Illness

If you have a loved one that is dealing with an illness that manifests in a way that doesn’t necessarily show physically, you may have heard a few frustrating responses of “well they look OK at the moment” or “oh, this must be a good day.” They very seldom realize that as they say this, your loved one may be going through a painful struggle inside. Most people forget that just because someone looks as healthy as they do, it doesn’t mean that that person is not suffering with a chronic illness.

Venus Williams – a Wimbledon tennis champion – has recently been diagnosed with Sjögren’s Syndrome, a chronic autoimmune illness that no one would know she had if she didn’t open up about it. You can bet that many people upon seeing her muttered the words “she doesn’t look sick,” while her immune system due to the Sjögren’s Syndrome was at work damaging healthy parts of her body. Like many chronic illnesses, it works invisibly, and all those who suffer have experienced the frustration of people just not understanding that they are unwell because they look fine. It is just one of the many misjudgments that people living with a chronic, invisible illness have to face every day of their lives. It can make it extremely hard for many people to understand, maybe even yourself, how to help a loved one that is dealing with an invisible illness, and to comprehend what they go through daily. You can feel entirely useless while watching your loved one in pain. Here are a few ways to help and support your loved one.

Chronic Illness

Even if someone looks healthy, he or she may have long-term pain that you cannot see. Photo credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Nick Youngson / Alpha Stock Images.

Take The Time To Learn About The Illness

It is very likely your loved one doesn’t want pity or to be left out of everyday life because you believe they won’t be up to something. It is extremely helpful to you and your loved one to research their illness as much as you can so you can understand what is going on during both their good and bad days. A good day doesn’t mean they feel illness-free; instead, it will just mean they feel slightly more capable, and in less pain than they do on a bad day. Most of all, your research will help you to not treat them differently. They are still the same person, and their illness does not define them. You need to show that you understand that, and love them no matter what.

Accept You Won’t Be Able To Cure Their Pain

This is a tough one. Watching your loved one suffer can be one of the hardest things you will ever have to do, and you will want to help them in every way possible and try to cure the pain that they feel. However, googling the best marijuana strains for pain relief may not be as helpful as you think. You, no matter how much you want to be, are not capable of crying away this invisible illness or your loved one’s pain. Yes, it sucks, but really the only thing you can do is validate their pain. Let them know you understand why they are not able to do as much as they used to, and why they have days when it is difficult to even get out of bed in the morning. That will mean more to them than any pain killer you could offer them.

Be Patient

It is important to remember you can’t see what is going on inside your loved one. If on one day they are incredibly irritable, then lethargic and quiet another time, it’s important not to become frustrated with the constant changes in their mood. Their illness is not going to stay the same all day, they will have ups and downs, and with those changes, their moods may change quite suddenly and frequently too. It will be helpful for you to understand why they may be reacting in such a way to you, and to know when to give your loved one a little space. Though you want to take care of them as much as possible, they will not want to be smothered the whole time and will want to retain what they have left of their independence. If you are ever unsure whether your loved ones need alone time or a cuddle – it’s OK to ask. They will appreciate the concern and gesture.

Be Selective With Who You Tell

Of course, just like your loved one, you will need to get off your chest any feelings caused by the effects of witnessing a chronic invisible illness. But you will need to be respectful of your loved one’s wishes. It is a good idea to check with your loved one if it’s OK to share their personal information with your friends or other half, and respect their wishes if for any reason they do not want the information to go any further than you or close family.

Be Vigilant Of Ill Mental Health Signs

Chronic illness very often goes hand in hand with mental health. If you can’t carry out life like you once did, are unable to work, and have quite a few bad days in a row when it comes pain and symptoms of your chronic illness, it can be quite easy to start suffering with depression. It is important to recognize the signs in your loved and talk to them about getting professional help if they need it. With that being said, always respect their wishes if they are reluctant to seek help, but should they become a cause of harm to themselves or others it is essential you seek further help for your loved one. If you are extremely affected by the invisible illness and feel like you are having more low days than usual, you may also need to speak to someone or seek help for the way you are feeling. Of course, you will always want to put your loved one first, but at the same time you need to be at your best health in order to look after your loved one and be present when they need you to be. Talking to The Samaritans or a professional therapist could really help you or loved one come to terms with the illness that is not a major part of both of your lives.

As much as this time will be difficult for you, you have to remember it is even more difficult for your loved one. Being patient and trying to understand what they are going through by researching as much as possible are the best things you can do to help your loved one. That, and showing them as much love and support as possible. It will eventually get easier as you both become able to deal with the illness a little bit more, but this takes time, and a lot of understanding on both of your parts.


Bearing The Brunt: Supporting Your Partner Through A Life-Threatening Illness

Emotional and medical effects for your partner and you

Research your partner’s medical condition but don’t fall into a trap of over-Googling it. Do what you are able to find out about treatment options from verified specialists. Pexels, CC0 License.

It’s never the best news if somebody you love is diagnosed with a life-threatening condition and it can have a major effect on, not just your partner, but the both of you as a couple. There are many instances of people who have been placed under so much pressure due to a disease or general health issues that they have been torn apart, which can have a devastating effect on the families too. So if you are in that position where someone you care deeply about has been diagnosed with a major health condition there are things to do so you look after your partner but also, you need to make sure that you look after yourself, and here is how. Continue reading

When You Should Take Time Off For The Sake Of Your Health

Illness can leave you feeling miserable. When your health is in bad shape, it can have quite a big effect on the rest of your life. You might be lacking mental acuity and focus. Perhaps your aches and discomfort are preventing you from spending any time on a single task. Without a doubt, any illness will affect your performance at work. But when should you say enough is enough and take some time off?

These days, every worker is essential to smooth running of the business. Taking time off can be incredibly disruptive, especially if you’re the boss. But are you really bringing any benefit to the business if you are you sat there worrying and fretting about your ailing health? You have a few options here. You might choose to persevere, tackling the edges of the little tasks. Does this look good to your co-workers? Putting on a brave face rarely goes down that well with others.

Aches can cause physical and psychological problems

Being in pain – like this woman – can lead to a lack of sleep and many other issues. Pexels, CC0 License.

A second option is to work from home. This isn’t always practical either, but it might take the edge off your exhaustion if you don’t have to deal with the commute. The third option is to take some time off until you are well. There is no way to know how long that may take, or even if it will offer a full recovery. But it does buy you time to address the issues and put a practical plan of action into place.

Speak to your doctor. If you’ve recently had medical treatment for your condition, it’s time to find out why it isn’t working. And if you’re feeling worse, then you might even be looking at a medical malpractice case. If you’ve done everything that was expected of you, but something has gone wrong, you must find an alternative practitioner quickly so you can start the road to full recovery. After all, your livelihood depends on it, as well as your health and well-being.

Stress and a lack of sleep can aggravate every kind of illness. If you’re taking the time to rest, then do that. Switch off from work and the other things that are worrying you in life. Enjoy a massage or two. Eat well, do a couple of relaxing things you love, and get some sleep. It will help give you a new perspective on how to tackle the problems. And it gives your body the best chance to rejuvenate.

There are several signs that it is time to take a sick day:

  • You’re getting worse, not better
  • Your doctor has recommended it
  • Your boss has suggested it
  • You’re unable to perform your role well enough
  • Your concern about your health is affecting your concentration and your sleeping patterns

Don’t soldier on if it won’t benefit anyone. A brave face isn’t necessary. Instead, shift your focus and attention to improving your health so you can be back to work and performing well sooner.

Long term health issues should be regularly assessed to ensure they are not worsening. You should have an action plan for coping that prioritizes your well being. Take care.