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While most people may think of the phrase chronic illness and immediately think of cancer or arthritis, chronic illness can encompass a number of different illnesses affecting many different people. Put simply, chronic illness is defined as “a long-lasting condition that can be controlled but not cured,” and that doesn’t just affect elderly individuals.

Actually, a chronic illness can affect a young child, a teenager, someone in their 20s, or really anyone at any age. Different chronic illnesses include immune response disorders like Lupas, fibromyalgia, or inflammatory bowel diseases. There are many forms of chronic illness, so whenever someone who is suffering from one enlightens you about theirs, be respectful.

Once upon a time, I didn’t know a lot about chronic illness, but due to a number of my friends and family members who now suffer from one, I have become immensely enlightened. And it lead me to do a bit of research on the topic. Throughout my research, I stumbled upon some information I wanted to pass on about things we all need to know about those who are suffering from a chronic illness.

1. Just because you cannot see someone’s pain doesn’t mean it does not exist.

I think a lot of times when we are around people, it can be hard to understand that they are in pain, when you cannot see a wound or scar with your own eyes. However, just because the sufferers of chronic pain have invisible pain, that does not mean that it hurts any less.

2. Their lives are very different from yours.

People who suffer from chronic illness do not have the same life as others. They are constantly tired, with their lives oftentimes focused on treatments and doctor’s appointments. In between those times, there is a lot of suffering and exhaustion. So, if you know someone who has chronic pain, bear with them.

3. They have good days and bad days.

Someone who has chronic illness will have really bad days, but just because they are having a good day does not discount their disease.

4. They are extremely empathetic.

When you live much of your life in a chronic state of pain and sickness, it changes you. Many people I know with chronic illnesses have the biggest hearts because they are aware of others.

5. A lot of times, they suffer in silence.

Because chronic illness sufferers do not want to be perceived as being too much trouble, they suffer in silence. Or, they may think that you are tired of hearing about their pain and stick to themselves.

6. They need to be checked on.

Check on the people you love who have a chronic illness. While it may not seem like a big deal to you, it is likely a major thing for them to have you reach out and say you care.

7. Sometimes, they just can’t.

If you invite a friend out and about who has a chronic illness, remember not to get too upset if they cannot come. While they would likely love to, sometimes it is just beyond their capability.

8. They are easily drained.

When you are constantly running from appointments to your home and then to work, all while dealing with a chronic illness, it will drain you very quickly. Be mindful of that when dealing with your friends who have a chronic illnesses.

9. They have to live with that for the rest of their lives.

While it might seem like a nice gesture to say, “Oh you’ll get over it one day,” or “one day it will all be better,” avoid doing so. They have come to terms with the fact that they will always deal with this. And also, remember not to take things personally when they can’t give you attention or do something with you.