The best things to say to a chronic pain sufferer.
“You look great. But tell me. How are you really feeling today?”
Telling me I look great is fine, but it’s hard for me to know how to respond. What if I actually feel like 1 have 1000 kilovolts shooting up my arms? Now I’m not saying I want people to ask me how I am all the time, while looking searchingly into my eyes and holding my hand. That would become massively annoying really quickly. Perhaps only when the cracks show? Every now and again? That’d be lovely.
“Now I know you never ask for anything but I’m going to the supermarket later and I wondered if you’d like me to pick something up for you?”
This is such a good thing to hear. Really. It’s super thoughtful because it’s pretty obvious that I don’t like to ask for anything. I’m too proud and I hate putting people out. I never ever respond to anyone who offers me a favour and then only very, very rarely. Continuing to offer and making it easy for me to accept help is always appreciated. Even if I say no.
“You’re in pain. I don’t know how you are coping right now.”
I love my friends when they just state the obvious. When they step into my shoes and speak for me so I don’t have to tell them how I’m feeling. I’m not sure they always realise what a weight off that is. All we really need is each other’s love and support. And knowing my friends are trying to understand how I’m feeling is the best feeling.
“My friend is suffering from chronic pain and she really would benefit from a seat right now.”
I remember when I was on the underground once and was losing it pain-wise. My friend asked a guy really politely to give up his seat and I could tell he was looking at me, seemingly fit and young, and wondering why he should. In the meantime, an old lady began to get up for me. That showed him. Up he popped. For sure, more old people are in pain. I think that this makes them more sympathetic. But it doesn’t mean young people can’t be in pain too.
“I’m going out to this party. I know you’re probably not feeling it but I’ll sit in the kitchen with you and feed you smarties.”
Sometimes I hide away from the world. I just want to crawl up in a ball and pull my blanket over me. That’s exactly when I need friends to ask me if I want to come out. Part of this is to prevent me from disappearing into the dark place I go to when the pain doesn’t let up for two weeks on end. When it gets really bad, some friends will say ‘don’t even think about coming out.’ That’s not great. Encouragement always feels good.