What we can avoid saying to a person suffering with an invisible illness. The following was said to a patient suffering from a psychiatric illness as well as his replies.
“You might feel bad, yet you look fine so it might be difficult to find a friend or even a doctor to take you seriously, you know.”
‘You don’t have the slightest idea of how I feel. I can barely get out of bed before noon.’
“You look wonderful today. I’m the one feeling tired. I’ve been working overtime.”
Have you ever felt that someone is pushing you down so that you can’t get up even if you want to? That makes me tired, really tired. I wish I could say I am tired from work.”
“Why don’t you go out there and find a job? That will surely make you feel better?”
“That’s’ exactly what I am unable to do due to my illness.’
“Excercise more and you will be full of energy.”
‘Excercise? I can barely raise my head. The voices don’t allow me to sleep so I am up most of the night. A sleeping tablet helps sometimes but not much. Forget exercise, pal. Because I suffer from schizophrenia, I know exactly what the doctors on Grey’s Anatomy are saying, you know. Do you know that I am unable to open a child-proof bottle of pills? My hands either have no strength or shake? Do you know how hurtful it is when people pester me to find a pastime? Do they think that I don’t want to be busy? Someone once said;
‘Are you sure you’re not simply seeking attention with all these antics? At least you get a lot of bed rest. I wish I could take off work the way you do! Maybe you should see a therapist or try alternative medicine!’
“Do they really think that I don’t want to work and live a life like other people?”
Here are some of the more positive comments that could be made.
‘Go ahead and cry if you need to.’ OR ‘Let’s do your shopping and other errands on Thursday but please remember to make a list and let me know what time suits you. I can make it any time after 5:00 p.m.’ OR be positive and pay him a compliment or two. ‘How on earth do you manage to remain positive sometimes?’ ‘Do you want me to help you find a support group? Maybe we can even go together the first few times.’ “Would you like me to help you pick out a new sweatshirt? This one looks a bit … worn?’ OR ‘I’m going for a walk along the beach. Would you like to join me?’
It is not advisable for a person with a psychiatric illness who is taking medication to go to a pub, so that is a suggestion I would omit.