How do you emotionally support someone with chronic illness?
There is no one answer to how do you emotionally support someone with chronic illness as everyone experiences chronic illness differently and therefore has different needs when it comes to emotional support. However, there are some general things you can do to help a loved one cope with their chronic illness.
- Firstly, it is important to be there for them. Just let them know that you are available to talk whenever they need to and provide a shoulder to cry on if needed. Sometimes just being present can be a huge help.
- Secondly, try to be understanding and patient. Chronic illness can be extremely frustrating and debilitating, so it is important to try and see things from your loved one’s perspective.
- Finally, offer practical as well as emotional support. This might include helping with day-to-day tasks or providing transportation to doctor’s appointments.
If you are not sure what your loved one needs, just ask them. They will appreciate your willingness to help and support them through their chronic illness.
Whilst supporting my wife with her chronic conditions, endometriosis, and fibromyalgia, I found that the best way to support my wife was to simply listen and let her talk, to let her express herself, without trying to step in, and without being judgemental.
- Tips on how do you emotionally support someone with chronic illness.
- Tip 1: Educate yourself on your partner’s chronic illness.
- Tip 2: Encourage them to see a doctor or specialist.
- Tip 3: Be patient and understanding.
- Tip 4: Be there for them.
- Tip 5: Offer practical as well as emotional support.
- Tip 6: Do not be judgemental.
- Tip 7: Let them express themselves.
- Tip 8: Listen to them.
- Tip 9: Do not try to fix everything.
- Tip 10: Accept that some things are out of your control.
- Tip 11: Help with day-to-day tasks.
- Tip 12: Provide transportation to doctor’s appointments.
- Tip 13: Advocate for your partner.
- Tip 14: Connect them with others who understand chronic illness.
- Tip 15: Take care of yourself too.
- Tip 16: Seek professional help if needed.
- Tip 17. Your partner is unique.
- Wrapping up how do you emotionally support someone with chronic illness…
Tips on how do you emotionally support someone with chronic illness.
I have gained a lot of personal experience but I also gained a lot of knowledge. The experience came from a decade of supporting my wife who suffers from two chronic conditions, the knowledge came from research, from a great number of other couples I spoke with over the years, and from my advocacy of endometriosis and fibromyalgia that allowed me to speak with medical professionals and psychologists my wife has met.
My wife’s conditions allowed me to embark on a personal journey of research, and trial and error, which allowed me to develop strategies that work well with the support of a chronically ill partner. Below, I give you 17 tips on how do you emotionally support someone with chronic illness:
- Educate yourself on your partner’s chronic illness.
- Encourage them to see a doctor or specialist.
- Be patient and understanding.
- Be there for them.
- Offer practical as well as emotional support.
- Do not be judgemental.
- Let them express themselves.
- Listen to them.
- Do not try to fix everything.
- Accept that some things are out of your control.
- Help with day-to-day tasks.
- Provide transportation to doctor’s appointments.
- Advocate for your partner.
- Connect them with others who understand chronic illness.
- Take care of yourself too.
- Seek professional help if needed.
- Your partner is unique.
In the following paragraphs, I’m going to expand on these tips more…
Firstly, if you want to learn how to cope with your partner’s chronic illness, how to support her struggles, and manage a relationship with a chronic condition, I give away a FREE Chapter of my eBook: “Supporting a Chronically Ill Partner”.
This chapter alone has all the comprehensive information about acknowledging the struggles, including:
- A word to your partner.
- A word to you.
- Stepping on eggshells.
- Understanding her needs.
- How to acknowledge having a chronically ill partner?
- Acknowledging can be hard.
- 15 tips on how to do it!
Get the 1st Chapter FREE!
Chronic Illness for Partners
Tip 1: Educate yourself on your partner’s chronic illness.
One of the best things you can do to support your partner is to educate yourself on their chronic illness. This will help you to better understand what they are going through and how you can best support them.
Talk to their doctor, read books and articles, and join support groups, but you can also talk to your partner about how their chronic illness affects them emotionally. Talking to my wife, I’ve learned more about both of her conditions than from any doctor.
I did a lot of research about endometriosis and I did a lot of research about fibromyalgia. Furthermore, I’ve learned a lot about chronic pain, fatigue, and brain-fog, because all of them usually accompany any chronic illness.
Tip 2: Encourage them to see a doctor or specialist.
If your partner is not already under the care of a doctor or specialist, encourage them to seek out medical help. This is an important step in managing any chronic illness.
Bate in mind though, that generally, general practitioners won’t necessarily know much about your partner’s condition. Sure, they are doctors, but they know bits and bobs of many conditions and do not specialize in a particular condition.
I found it rare for general practitioners to have knowledge about endometriosis or/and fibromyalgia. This is why the diagnosis of these chronic diseases takes on average 5 to 8 years.
Tip 3: Be patient and understanding.
Chronic illness can be extremely frustrating and debilitating, so it is important to try and see things from your loved one’s perspective. Be patient with them and try to offer understanding and support.
I always thought that I used to be a very patient person, but since endometriosis and fibromyalgia invaded my wife’s life, I’ve learned how uninformed, impatient, and not really understanding I was. The perception I had of myself was wrong.
But with time, I’ve learned to be more patient and understanding. It takes time, but if you love someone, you will find the strength and courage to do it.
Tip 4: Be there for them.
“No amount of anxiety will push me away” is a book that has never been published. I wrote it when I was on the verge of losing my wife. She suffered from extreme depression and tried to commit suicide on more than one occasion.
She also asked me to divorce her for the sake of my happiness (as she put it) because she felt like a burden to me, even though I never made her feel that way. I reassured her that I’m here to stay…
Just let your partner know that you are there for them. Sometimes, just being present can be a huge help.
Tip 5: Offer practical as well as emotional support.
Knowing how to emotionally support someone with chronic illness is knowing that you need to also provide practical support.
So, in addition to offering your partner emotional support, you can also offer practical support. This might include helping with day-to-day tasks or providing transportation to doctor’s appointments. On helping your partner in the daily tasks, look further down at the 11th tip.
Tip 6: Do not be judgemental.
It is important to avoid being judgemental when supporting someone with a chronic illness. They are already dealing with enough judgment from others and from themselves.
Even when you feel judged by your partner for the things you haven’t done or weren’t aware of, do your best not to be judgmental. Nobody said that sharing life with someone suffering from a chronic illness was an easy ride, it’s actually very challenging.
Do not be judgemental by making any permanent decisions for your partner’s temporary emotions. They don’t last.
Tip 7: Let them express themselves.
Encourage your partner to express their thoughts and feelings. This can be done through conversation, journaling, or art. It is important to let them know that it is okay to express their emotions and that you are there to support them.
I bought my wife a chronic illness journal, and it helped her get diagnosed quicker than she normally would because she could show her doctor the evidence of what she was going through prior to her visit.
Apart from contributing to Worry Head, I also found that writing blog posts for my blog helped my wife express how she felt. She didn’t bottle her emotions inside, and she found it very therapeutic.
Tip 8: Listen to them.
I still remember the day when my wife got really upset. All I wanted was just to be nice and tried to give my wife advice, however, I used to do it whilst she was talking to me. And even though in my mind I wanted to help my wife, in her eyes, I was disrespecting her by stepping in.
At that very moment, I learned never to interrupt.
Really try to listen to what your partner is saying. This can be difficult, especially if you don’t understand the illness, but it is important to try to see things from their perspective.
Tip 9: Do not try to fix everything.
We, men, love to fix things. We are wired by mother nature to do that.
When my wife was first diagnosed with endometriosis, I wanted to fix it in some way. Later on, when she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, again, I felt there was something I could do. It took me a while to realize, that instead of trying to fix my wife’s health (which I couldn’t), I needed to change my approach to her support.
There are some things that you just cannot fix. Your partner’s condition is one of them. Accept that and focus on what you can do to support your partner.
It brings me to my next point – there are some things you can’t control…
Tip 10: Accept that some things are out of your control.
Knowing how to emotionally support someone with chronic illness means knowing that chronic illness can be unpredictable and often beyond our control. Try to accept this and focus on the things that you can control.
the acceptance of not being able to control everything can actually help you feel more in control.
It can be difficult to accept that there are some things out of our control, but it is important to remember that your partner is the one who is suffering and they need your support.
Tip 11: Help with day-to-day tasks.
If your partner is struggling with day-to-day tasks, offer to help out. This might include cooking, cleaning, or running errands.
Do what I did and go even further. Instead of waiting for your partner to tell you what to do, do what needs to be done before your partner asks you to. I found that if I wash the shower, do the washing, or shopping for my wife, she appreciates it more.
Take the initiative, be a man, do what needs to be done, and then take time for yourself. You deserve it.
Tip 12: Provide transportation to doctor’s appointments.
If your partner is having difficulty getting to and from doctor’s appointments, offer to provide transportation. This can be a huge help.
If you’re like me and don’t have a car, it doesn’t change anything. Go on public transport with your partner, or simply book a cab in advance for her. You can always ask your neighbor, a family member, or a friend.
Whatever you decide on, accompany your partner on her journey.
Tip 13: Advocate for your partner.
One of the best things I’ve ever done for my partner, and it was unconditional on my part, I took the initiative to advocate for my wife. Not only did she become to be taken more seriously than before when she used to go to the doctor alone, but it also sped up her diagnosis.
Be an advocate for your partner. This means speaking up for them when they are not able to and fighting for their rights.
What I found was that I didn’t even have to say anything, just my presence was enough to change things for to better. I found that if men sit by their chronically ill women’s side, they are taken seriously and with more care.
Tip 14: Connect them with others who understand chronic illness.
It can be helpful for your partner to connect with others who understand what they are going through. You might consider joining a support group or connecting them with online resources.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It doesn’t work for people who don’t want to be constantly reminded of their situation. But chronic illness usually means a loss of social life, and this is why it is great to connect with others who understand chronic illness.
This also allows people to learn from other people’s mistakes and successes.
Tip 15: Take care of yourself too.
It is important to take care of yourself as well. This can be difficult when you are caring for someone else, but it is important to make time for yourself.
Seek out support from friends and family, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. How do you emotionally support someone with chronic illness if you cannot take care of your own emotional health?
Practice self-care, meaning do something every day just for yourself. This might include taking a relaxing bath, reading your favorite book, or going for a walk.
Tip 16: Seek professional help if needed.
If you are struggling to cope, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. This can be a huge help in managing your own emotions and in supporting your partner.
There is no shame in asking for help, it can actually prevent your partner from getting worse.
If your partner needs to go to A&E, don’t hesitate to call for an ambulance. Don’t play a hero and get in the car. Sometimes there’s traffic or not enough time. If your partner needs immediate help, an ambulance can give it at home before safely proceeding to the hospital.
Tip 17. Your partner is unique.
Remember that each person is different and will need different things. What works for one person might not work for another. Be flexible and try different things until you find what works best for your partner.
It may take time, but it’s worth it. The more you know about your partner’s chronic illness and her reactions, the better equipped you will be to support her.
Your partner may have the same conditions as my wife; endometriosis, fibromyalgia, OCD, general anxiety, panic attacks, and depression, but your partner’s circumstances and environment I’d different, your partner also is unique, like everyone else.
Get the 1st Chapter FREE!
Chronic Illness for Partners
Wrapping up how do you emotionally support someone with chronic illness…
To summarise how to emotionally support someone with chronic illness, here are the most important points:
- Be there for them, physically and emotionally
- Educate yourself about their condition
- Be patient and understanding
- Make time for them
- Be an advocate for them
- Connect them with others who understand chronic illness
- Take care of yourself too
- Seek professional help if needed
- Remember that each person is different and will need different things
If you follow these tips, you will be on your way to supporting your partner through their chronic illness. Just remember to be patient, understanding, and flexible, and you will do just fine.
Let’s chat about this in the comments section below!
Hi, I’m Lucjan! The reason why I decided to create this blog was my beautiful wife, who experienced a lot of pain in life, but also the lack of information about endometriosis and fibromyalgia for men…