Terri Lynn

How to Create a Safe World When Dealing with Chronic Illness

For those who are struggling with chronic illness you already know where I am going with this.  For those who don’t, if you know someone who is battling chronic illness, I encourage you to continue reading!  Often understanding another’s battle allows us to love them so much harder! 

When you are thrust into a season of struggling with your illness, everyday situations become treacherousSuddenly everyday conversations are exhausting, social media posts are offensive, and your own friends don’t respect the boundary of “no.”   

Now we could go around and around in circles talking about people’s good intentions, how so few people have walked in your shoes and how your friends and family are simply concerned.  But that’s not the point of this blog.  And to be real, whenever someone with chronic illness is honest about their feelings of feeling like a stranger in this world, they are reminded by people who are not sick of how well intentioned the world is.  The point of this blog is to fully acknowledge the issues that arise as a person who lives with chronic illness tries to live in a world where they are the minority.  Because that, that is HARD! 

Tip #1 

You can be doing ‘good’ even if you are not… 

This one took me a while to conquer.  People would ask me, “How are you doing” or “How are you feeling” and in an attempt to be honest, I would be honest!  “Feeling like crap” “My illness is actually progressing” “I didn’t sleep for more than an hour a night last week and spent my waking hours locked inside the bathroom” Only to realize that this often led to incredibly awkward conversations of people not knowing what to say, saying incredibly offensive things or them asking questions I didn’t feel comfortable answering.  All and all I would walk away from the conversation drained, embarrassed and confused.  I mean, I want people to ask how I’m doing and how I’m feeling.  But this doesn’t feel good!   

So, I came up with a new rule for myself!  If I would be asked “The Question” when I was either simply not up for answering or didn’t want to tell that specific person the details of my sickly life I could simply say, “I’m good!  How are you?”  Now wait a minute, wouldn’t that be a lie?!  MRRR WRONG!  I am always good.  Why?  Cause I’m alive.  And in this season, that’s my definition of good. 

This allowed me to not be afraid to enter into conversation with people, which is crucial in maintaining some form of a social life even when your illness gets bad!   

Tip #2

Press the MUTE button! 

Did you know that you can mute people on social media without unfollowing, unfriending or blocking people?  It’s simply GOLD!  Now, why would a good little girl like you ever want to do such?  Because social media as a whole, is not created for those battling illness. 

Every day when I go on social media, I see posts and stories about “If you really want ___ you will figure out a way to get it.  If you don’t, you don’t truly want it.” or “Health is simply what you put into your body, if you are sick, clean up your diet.” I could go on and on!!  Some days it doesn’t faze me in the least but if I’ve just had some bad medical news or am feeling unwell it can take me from a peaceful mindset to one of turmoil in under 5 minutes!   

Be ok with muting people!  You can always unmute them later.  You are allowed to live in a world where you feel safe and treasured, even with chronic illness. 

Tip #3 

Have the dang conversation!!! 

A huge area of conflict with people who are physically unwell for long periods of time is their friends and family not understanding the full extent of the situation.  You’ve said you are coming to that family gathering, now you feel like you were just run over by a truck.  You cancel.   They guilt trip… Or maybe you used to be able to do everything from A-Z in business but now you find yourself hardly able to get through the A’s in a single week.  People are confused at this new full-of-boundaries version of yourself.  They start talking behind your back about how lazy and unmotivated you are.  It hurts… 

I want to encourage you to have the dang conversation!!  When I’m entering a difficult season with my health I in depth explain everything to my closest friends, family members, and employees.  Like I give them ALL the goods.  Far more info than they want!!  Everything from, “the new medication I’m on causes me to have spastic diarrhea and so when I leave a call suddenly, that’s wud up” to “if I cancel last minute I need that to be ok, if you guilt trip me I will just stop saying yes in the first place” THEY GET IT ALL.  Once.  Why?  Because then I’ve done my part.  I’ve communicated the situation to them fully. 

And guess what happens the next time they don’t understand?  It’s not my problem.  It’s theirs.  I don’t spend my time or energy continually explaining my situation to them.  And that feels SO GOOD!!! 

I hope these tips have been helpful for you!  I love hearing from you so please, send me a DM on Instagram and let me know which tip hit home the most! 


Terri Lynn 

2 thoughts on “How to Create a Safe World When Dealing with Chronic Illness”

  1. Holy cow. This was so freakin good. I can relate to all you’re saying and love tip #3 the most. Most peeps in my life get when I cancel things last minute. It’s so refreshing to know I’m not the only one who has days/wks where I “can’t get thru the A’s”. 💋

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