This post is named because it is what people would most likely search on Google.
The other day I was talking with someone very close to me. He mentioned that he felt terrible that he knows I have arthritis and tend to be in pain, but that he can't do anything to make it better. He said he wish he could help me.
I honestly never knew anyone would ever feel that way about Arthur and I, I just assumed no one ever felt bad for me. It came as a huge shock when he told me! I had always hoped someone wanted to help me or try to make things better but I never assumed it was true. A lot of the time I feel like no one cares at all.
Anyway, I came up with several things that truly do help. They're not terribly difficult, nor hard to come by. It's simple things that help and here's my list.
1.) If it's okay to hug the person with arthritis, let them stay as long as they need. That one moment makes a world of difference. To a person with arthritis (or a hidden disability/autoimmune disease) a hug shows you really care. It's easy to forget the person who suffers in silence, and even easier to forget that they're scared or sad or just need to hear "Everything will be okay," or that "It's okay to be afraid." Sometimes a person just needs to feel loved.
2.) Let the person vent to you. Chances are, they just want to talk to someone who won't get annoyed she's talking about it "Yet again." I know, I know, it gets very repetitive and even boring but it helps more than you can understand. Believe me, I know.
3.) Offer to help them out. This could be bringing over dinner or maybe as simple as going upstairs to bring down something the person needs. Especially offer if the person is struggling.
4.) Never, ever dismiss the person with arthritis who suggests a break during shopping, etc. Most of us only ask for a break once we have extreme pain or fatigue. And if we demand a break or just sit down, please just stop and let us rest: Nine out of ten times (at least for me) when I appear upset and just sit or whatever, I am in terrible pain and I'm exhausted. It's like being sick but a hundred times worse that usual.
5.) People with arthritis (and lupus) often feel very cold: Please acknowledge our bodies are sometimes in pain because of the cold. Blankets, jumpers (sweaters), and warm socks are greatly appreciated. Don't force us into a pool, sometimes the water is so cold that it is painful.
6.) It's hard to keep up with the crowd sometimes: Having someone there to walk at a slower pace when everyone else rushes around makes us feel less self-conscious.
7.) Help a person with arthritis open jars and bags. Honestly. Don't announce it to the world, just do this simple but greatly appreciate act quietly.
8.) Sometimes we get flare-ups, so please understand if plans are cancelled last moment. It's not that we are trying to get out of an engagement: We are sick and cannot move.
9.) We have our limits, try to understand them. Some of us can do it all, some of us cannot but most of us are somewhere in the middle. If we're up to try something that seems to push the limits, please encourage us to take it slowly and safely.
10.) If the person with arthritis is a huge advocate of arthritis, show your support! Wear supportive bands, shirts or do anything you can!
11.) Please don't tell us that it could be way worse. Most likely I know this. I'm thankful every day I do not have cancer, diabetes, heart disease or another disease. But it does not mean I am not sick, none the less. Our immune systems don't work properly, our joints are sore, stiff and even deformed, and some of us take chemo, wear braces and require surgery. Yes, it could be a lot worse but it also could be much better.
12.) Some days we feel like Superman with so much energy, and others we feel the energy has been sucked right out of us and can't do much. Please understands we have our ups and downs.
13.) Unless you really know the person and what hurts, ask before you touch us. Touching can sometimes cause pain, I know this first hand. Be very gentle.
14.) Sometimes asking for help makes us feel weak and vulnerable, please give us respect and treat us with dignity. You would be surprised at the amount of people who help us and treat us like infants.
15.) Don't be afraid to include us in plans! We can do most anything we want, just at a different pace. I've gone to Laser Tag, amusement parks and rollerskating without any problems! Trust me: We don't want to let arthritis make us miss out on anything. Even if we can't go, we still feel loved for being included.
I guess these are simple things to do but they make a world of difference, I swear. No one person does this all for me, but thanks to a small circle of people who truly care, I do feel very loved and supported.
Keep your chin up.