We don’t say it often enough, do we? Thank you . . . Two simple words, but it can be so hard to remember to say them. Not for the big stuff, we usually remember when someone gives us something big, but how often do we remember when someone listens to us? How often do we thank our friends for just being there for us; for listening, for understanding, and for giving us the strength to keep going when all we want to do is curl up and die?
I know I don’t tell my friends how much I appreciate them nearly enough, so when I found out that the new PFAM blog carnival topic is “the nicest thing(s) anyone has done for you since you became ill,” I decided it was time for some “thank yous.”
I have a LOT of friends, both real life and online, and they’ve done TONS of nice things for me. I’ve been given computers, and televisions, and a home; I’ve had friends lend me heating pads, and cook dinner on my night to cook, and give me rides to work. . .
My wonderful friends have done more for me than I could ever repay if I had a million years to do it in; but the best thing they’ve ever done is just listened to me when I needed to talk about how bad I felt, how scared I was, and even when I was suicidal. As painful and depressing as it can be to listen to someone who is in that very negative space, my friends (and my hubby) have done that for me; and I love them for it, more than they will ever know.
If you’re one of my friends, and you’ve listened to me, know that YOU are the reason I can keep going, YOU give me the strength to keep fighting even when I want to give up. It may not seem like much to you, but for me it’s huge, and without you I would not be able to handle the pain. Thank you for that, and for just being you.
If you have a friend or family member with a chronic illness, and you feel frustrated because you can’t DO anything to make them feel better; remember that the BEST thing you can do, the most helpful and supportive thing in the world, is just to listen and believe.
Yes, it’s wonderful if you can give them a ride to the store, or do an errand, or cook dinner; but the pain and fatigue aren’t the hardest part of having an invisible chronic illness. The hardest part is not being believed when they try to tell someone what it’s like for them, being told that they “don’t look sick” so there must not be anything wrong with them that can’t be fixed by just deciding to feel better. If you can just listen to them and accept that there is something very wrong; even though you can’t see it, even if you don’t understand it; you are giving them a priceless gift.