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How to Best Support People with Chronic Illness and Disabilities

Society often has a limited awareness and a negative perception around chronic illness and disability - especially when it's invisible (hidden) and/or dynamic (fluctuating or variable). If you've never had experience with it yourself, you may not initially say the right thing...

 

and that's okay if you make a mistake! but thereafter it's all about educating yourself on the topic, and relearning behaviours or perceptions.

Disability and chronic illness is often 'hush-hush' {even the IG algorithm now counts it as 'sensitive content' in its new filters...} and the FEAR behind making a mistake or saying the wrong thing doesn't help.

Ableism is still very much ingrained in our society, and many people have lots of re-learning to do

 

Some activism towards ableism can make people feel like they're being 'policed' to the point that they'd rather 'not know' / ignore the topic so they don't feel like they're going to make a mistake

 

This is why it is ESSENTIAL that people:

 

⚡️feel comfortable enough to acknowledge they said the wrong thing and feel like it's OKAY to make a mistake

 

🔎BUT then thereafter are WILLING to educate themselves on the topic and re-learn stigmas and behaviours

 

It's the end of disability pride month, but it shouldn't be the end of advocacy on this topic

 

What can you do?

  • share this post to encourage people to feel comfortable to re-learn perceptions 🔆

  • save and share this website page "How Best to Support People with Chronic Illnesses and Disabilities"🫂

  • follow other disability and chronic illness creators and advocates on social media platforms

  • turn on notifications 🔔 of those creators so the new sensitive content filter doesn't mute their voices 🔊

 

PLEASE don't be afraid to make a mistake, we understand that our ableist culture may mean you don't know the right thing to say at first, and that's okay, just please be willing to re-learn thereafter. I hope this guide can help with some suggestions of how to best support us.

 

Here's a guide of some things to AVOID saying and options of what to say INSTEAD 

Instead of “But you don't look sick/ill/disabled?"

Try;

⚡️ "You look great/happy/healthy/so well but how are you TRULY feeling?"

⚡️"I know it's not always visible, could you tell me how your condition affects you?

⚡️"You are incredible for what you go through every day, I can't relate but I'm PROUD of you"

⚡️"I Googled your condition(s), so I understand a little better, but can you tell me more?"

⚡️"Even though I may not fully relate, I'm here to support you"

⚡️"I BELIEVE you"

 

 

Instead of not inviting us because we often can't make it

Try;

⚡️"I'd love you to come but no pressure if you can't make it"

⚡️ "These plans aren't very accessible, you're invited but if you can't I'll organise something soon that suits you better"

⚡️ "If I can do anything to accommodate you let me know!”

⚡️ "I can come over to you if that helps?"

⚡️ “What types of plans suit you best and we’ll do more of that!”

⚡️ "Our plans can be as flexible as possible, if you can't make it we can keep rescheduling"

 

 

Instead of "get well or get better soon"

Try;

⚡️ “I hope this flare eases up soon”

⚡️ “I’m thinking of you / sending my love + hugs”

⚡️ “I hope you find some relief to alleviate your symptoms soon”

⚡️ “I’m here to support you if you need me or want some [virtual] company”

⚡️ “I can't imagine how hard this must be”

⚡️ “You've been through so much + I'm proud of you”

⚡️ “If you want to chat I'm here”

⚡️ “Don't forget that resting is productive and please take all the time you need”

 

Instead of "at least it's not ___" and/or giving unsolicited advice (eg. you should try ____ as I heard it cured ____)

Try;

⚡️"Do you want to tell me more about how it feels to have your condition?"

⚡️"What management strategies can you use that helps with daily life?"

⚡️"What is the long term prognosis of your condition(s)?"

⚡️"How does the condition affect your lifestyle?"

⚡️"What does a typical day look like for you?"

⚡️"What do you use for pain or symptom relief?

⚡️"Is there anything that you've found that helps or are you still trialling?"

Remember, it means the world to us if you try to re-learn, educate yourself and ultimately support us [without any gaslighting]

Bookmark this page to refer to. Is there anything you would add?

Let me know via the button below and I'll be sure to update this page!

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Chronic illness insights, tips & resources