This isn’t something I typically talk about too much here on the blog, but I suffer from several “invisible” chronic illnesses (Crohn’s, Ulcerative colitis & Celiac to name a few). There are good days and bad days and worse days, as with all sickness. The past few months have been extremely difficult for me as I have dealt with some flare ups that have rendered me nearly unable to keep up with my normal daily tasks.
Right now, laundry is piled high, dishes are often left undone and my energy level is well…non existent. I go through a cycle or two (sometimes more) every year and it gets exhausting. Not only do I feel like a failure as a wife and mother, but as a person as well. All I want to do is sleep. I don’t eat much and I usually have a lot of pain, which doesn’t allow me to be the mother and wife I want to be. My husband is amazing though and has learned over the years how to love me through these times.
People often tell me they wish they knew what to do to help and often in the moment, I am just not sure. I am so overwhelmed with trying to “feel better” that I can’t think straight to give them an answer. Many of you may be in the same boat – you have a chronic illness and need help or want to help, but don’t know how. So I compiled a list that should help both sides.
- PRAY – I know this sounds trivial, but pray for not only the person affected, but their family as well. Families of people with Chronic Illnesses suffer as well. They lose time with the loved one as these illnesses quite often require a lot of sleep. Pray that God will give them time together and that it will be blessed.
- Fix meals – From personal experience, I can tell you it is difficult to get meals cooked on days when flare-ups occur. Fix some freezer meals that can be used whenever or some easy, no-prep meals they can keep on hand for a few days. Coordinate with others in the church, community, neighborhood or family to make sure they don’t get flooded with too meals that could go to waste. Do this several times a year or whenever you know a flare-up is occurring. NOTE: Don’t forget to check for allergies & sensitivities of food.
- Clean – This is probably the BIGGEST chore I have to tackle when sick. It is important that I keep my family fed and clothed, which takes all my energy some days…so the cleaning gets put on the back burner. Yes, my kids help some, but sometimes a house needs a good deep cleaning that only adults can do. Don’t offer – we will likely refuse. Just plan a “stop in” to chat with them and come prepared to clean.
- Daily Chores – There are times that even the simplest tasks don’t get done because I have literally no energy to even sit, let alone fold clothes or wash dishes. Offer to come in once a week (or more if you can) to fold & put away laundry. I often get clothes folded, but they rarely make it to their assigned space because I run out of steam. Dishes are my arch nemesis and I think it’s a total conspiracy, nevertheless, they still have to be done.
- Babysit – Offer to take the kids away for an afternoon. It could be an afternoon at the park or to your house to play. Give them time to rest without the constant barrage of children in their room. Just a few hours of rest can rejuvenate me and allow me to enjoy the evening with my family rather than sleep it away because of exhaustion. If you can take them for a night – even better!
- Don’t run – Don’t run or hide in fear. We already know we’re different and that our “condition” might scare you…it scares us too on occasion. But, we aren’t contagious – most of the time – and if we are, we will tell you! Running or avoiding us only isolates us more and we already feel alone most of the time. Even though I am an introvert, I still crave adult interaction (on my terms), so please…don’t run.
- Help her homeschool – If she is a homeschooling mom, she will likely need assistance from time to time. Offer to come in and help monitor kids while she rests. You could also offer to help grade papers (if she grades papers), organize her supplies or do science projects/walks with the kids. Those are things that rarely get done in our house because of my energy level. My kids would LOVE to go on nature walks and find different leaves!
- Don’t visit when sick – When our immune systems are down, we are much more susceptible to infections and won’t risk the exposure, so we will not hesitate to tell you “STAY AWAY.” Our feelings will not be hurt if you can’t make it over to visit or help, in fact, we will be grateful that another virus didn’t pass through our house and/or us.
- Include us – Please feel free to invite us to movie nights, lunch with you, a girls night out or whatever comes up. We won’t always say no. But, please don’t be offended if we say no or have to pull out at the last second. Life happens and we can not predict when our body will revolt and say, enough.
Do you or someone you know suffer from a chronic illness? What would you add to this list?
This post is part of the Marriage & Motherhood Mondays series. To see others in this series, simply click the image below.
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