Unrelated cute photo of supermodel Tristan Kemitzis
|Scooped by Eli Dinkelspiel|
How to Interact with Acquaintances with Chronic Pain
Here's a good discussion I had with @Kaitlin McKinnon:
Kaitlin: This article (referring to my first scoop) seems primarily directed towards people who are either good friends with, or live with a person suffering from chronic pain.
Do these suggestions also apply for someone with a more casual relationship with someone suffering from chronic pain? It seems like the article centers on the idea that people with chronic pain try to appear (and want to feel) "normal" (although of course that word is fraught with problems). At in your experience, is it better if a more casual acquaintance acknowledges chronic pain or, as long as they respect set boundaries, is it better to, for the most part, not comment on it?
Me: It's really context dependent. You're right, though, that it's directed towards people close to the sufferer. Here are some personal suggestions for dealing with people with chronic illness:
a) Don't make suggestions. It's really annoying and has never been helpful. It wears down on you like you wouldn't believe.
b) Ask questions like, "how can I be helpful?" rather than "WHAT'S IT LIKE WHEN YOU'RE IN A LOT OF PAIN LOL CAN I TOUCH IT?"
c) Sympathize, don't empathize. It's impossible to know what the sufferer is going through. This is a really tricky one.
d) If you ask about something, REALLY MEAN THAT YOU WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT. It's hard to reveal a part of yourself to someone, especially something so vulnerable.