The holiday season is a busy time for everyone – and finding the perfect gift for someone you love can be difficult.
So to make it easier for my friends, here are some things someone with an invisible illness like me may be wishing for. The best part about this? None of it will cost you a dime!
Especially when I have to cancel plans. I promise I don’t use my illness as an excuse. You’ll have to trust that I know my limitations and I want you to know that I’d most likely much rather be able to stick to our original plan.
2. Stop giving us a hard time about our illness
Yes, I know we all use humour to cope, at least I do. I know understanding an unseen illness is difficult but for our sake please try. We can occasionally pick on ourselves with certain aspects of our diagnosis but when it’s constant and coming from others it gets old (especially the bathroom jokes and the ‘wait, you can actually eat that?!’).
3. Please take our illness seriously and take the time to learn about it (if you’re reading this I know that you are, so thank you!)
“How’s that stomach thing?” Belittling an illness doesn’t make it any less real. We’ve all done this to someone – if you can’t see it or you’re not going through it, it’s likely that you don’t fully appreciate all aspects of the illness.
We’re usually trying our best to shove our illness to the side for the time being, so just respect that we care enough to shield you from the majority of it. Reciprocating with thoughtful questions and intelligent conversation rather than uneducated mumbling means so much.
In general, as a human – it’s not that hard.
Specific to my case, if I kindly decline your delicious looking food or turn the cold shoulder the second time you offer me a drink please understand that I really do want to eat that dumpling and I really do want to enjoy another glass of wine with you. But I can’t. Gluten content matters, lactose content matters, sugar content matters. And sleep matters the most. So when I seem like a downer sitting in the corner of the room trying to carry on conversation just know that I want to be there but at that point I’m struggling to be and I need to go home and recover. Rather than pressuring me to stay, help me grab my coat. Don’t tell me things are okay because at that moment they are not – but they will be when I get rest.
It is the holidays, right?
Love me the way that I am in that moment. This might get better or easier – it might not. No one gave me a choice and I believe I’m doing a great job coping and taking it day by day as it hits me.
You absolutely do not have to walk this road with me – but if you choose to please do it with love. I don’t need a kick in the ass to get over it or your tough love. Just love me, care for me, cherish me and I promise to do the same in return.