Friendships and chronic illness can be tricky. Cancelled plans, changes in ability to engage in certain activities and isolation can take a toll on even the strongest friendships. As the “friend with chronic illness”, I know I’ve struggled mightily with communication in my relationships since my health circumstances changed.
As my life became more and more affected by chronic illness, it was incredibly difficult for me to identify what type of new support I needed from my friends and family. Once I did identify what my new needs were, it proved equally challenging for me to learn how to reach out and directly ask for those things clearly.
One of the most simple but impactful ways my friendships have been strengthened and maintained is through texting. After telling my close friends and family how they can help me via text; I began to feel more connected and supported. I also think that everyone involved felt relieved. They enjoyed knowing exactly what they could do to help me, and I benefitted from the type of check-ins I was craving.
I have a few friends who check in on me regularly with short texts. Something as simple as a friend’s quick message, sent when they have 30 seconds free, can sometimes provide me a lifeline and help me to feel like there are people outside of my apartment who still love and care about me.
I think often people feel pressured to make sure that every time they get in touch with a chronically ill friend, they get a full update on their friend’s health. And there is absolutely a time and a place for the comprehensive symptoms and treatment update.
However, in between those conversations, texts that simply say: “hi, thinking about you, love you or omg look at this picture of a puppy in a holiday sweater” are more supportive than you might imagine. Those messages are truly a gift when you’re trapped in the land of chronic illness (especially during a flare). Their messages about just normal stuff, bring a moment of relief and a reminder of daily, mundane activities.
So if you suffer from chronic illness, here are a few ideas of ways to ask your friends to support you via text. Literally tell them, when you say “x” it makes me feel really supported. Asking for this can feel a little unnatural and weird, but I’ve found that in general when you can be extra specific about the type of encouragement you need, it is easier for people to deliver on it.
And if you have a friend who lives with chronic illness, try sending them any one of these texts (with your own personal twist of course) and let it brighten their day and fill up their heart. Your two seconds of reaching out might have a far deeper impact than you’ll ever know ♥️
The main theme in almost all of these messages is pretty simple: I am thinking about you and I care about you. I can only share from my experience that these type of messages make a world of difference in living and coping with chronic illness. I so hope that this is insightful and supportive and resonates with you guys.
If you also live with chronic illness, what words from your friends mean the most to you via texting? How do you feel most supported? Please drop a comment below, I would love to know!
Sending lots of love, calm and low pain vibes
I share each step along my road to wellness and healing and hope that in doing so I can inspire you along your own path. Thank you so much for being here.