Annemarie K. Lange - Licensed Professional Counselor
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But she doesn't look sick
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Speaking in code

How are you doing today?  We all hear that question repeated throughout the day.  What's the typical response?  "I'm good. You?".  

Now say you haven't been feeling well or you just had surgery and someone asks how you're doing.  You may respond a bit more honestly telling them about your discomfort.  "I feel awful.  It hurts just to get out of bed.  I've never felt like this before."  Now, imagine that discomfort, multiply it by 10, add a dozen or more pills and daily treatments and you'll begin to understand a little about what life is like with chronic illness.  

The illustration here  helps to give some insight into the daily struggles of those who live with chronic illness/chronic pain everyday.  They tend to speak in a code, a secret language that only those who are very close to them can begin to understand.  I heard someone just the other day refer to this type of smile as a plastic smile.  A smile we plaster onto our faces despite how we're feeling and continue on. 

Do not assume your loved one is not experiencing pain when they say that they are fine.  They're constantly struggling with living a "normal" life and keeping their suffering private, in part due to the lack of understanding in others or not wanting to burden others. It's difficult to find the right words to describe their pain, both physical and emotional.  

Speaking from personal experience with chronic illness, it's vital to have friends who can laugh with you one moment and cry with you the next!  Chronic illness, if nothing else, is unpredictable and the relationships you build along the way are so very important!  More on the role of the caregiver and social support next time.......

 
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