25 Helpful Things to Say to a Spoonie + Ecards!

5:00:00 PM


A little over a weak ago, I wrote a post titled "25 Things Not to Say to a Spoonie." As I mentioned in that post, I didn't write this post to make you feel bad. I wrote it to help you better understand us and make it easier for you to say the right things around the spoonie in your life. 

I figured since I've covered what not to say to a spoonie, I should also cover the helpful things you could say to a spoonie. 

Before you read this post, if you don't know what a spoonie is, you can read about it here. Basically, it's someone with one or more chronic illnesses. 

Many of us in the spoonie community know that living with a diagnosis can be very hard. We rely on our friends and family for support and understanding during these hard times. 

We understand that it might not be easy for you to always show your support, and it can be hard knowing what you can say to help us. So I've created a list of 25 helpful things to say to a spoonie; and of course, I've included some funny ecards. 

A great way to decide what to say is to THINK before you speak. The THINK method is a great one for anytime you're ready to talk, whether it's in person or online. Ask yourself these questions before speaking:
T: Is it true?
H: Is it helpful?
I: Is it inspiring?
N: Is it necessary?
K: Is it kind?

If you're still not sure what you can say, feel free to use some of the phrases below.



Photo Credit: someecards

1. "Can I come over and hang out?"
If you offer to bring us something we love to snack on or show up with PJ's and a DVD, we will be incredibly happy! It shows us that you're ok with the fact that we can't always go out and do stuff, and that you're willing to do something else in order to spend time with us. I truly believe that actions speak louder than words, and this is a pretty sweet gesture. 

2. "How are your symptoms today?"
By asking us this question, you're acknowledging the fact that we have a chronic illness that isn't going away. You're showing us that you've understood that we will always have symptoms and sometimes they're better than on other days. It also shows us that you truly care and want to know how we are instead of just asking the usual "how are you?"

3. "I hope your symptoms get better."
Some spoonies might not agree, but I hate when someone says "I hope you get better soon!" Our symptoms may disappear for a while or we might go into a remission, but usually these are life long diseases. We're not just going to get better. We're going to struggle with these illnesses for the rest of our lives. 

4. "I know how hard you're trying." 
Sometimes it can be really discouraging when we can't do things on our own or we need to cancel plans at the last minute. We already feel bad about these things. So, when you get mad at us for doing it, we get even more upset with ourselves and our illnesses. Sometimes we just need to know that you see how hard we're trying. 


Photo Credit: someecards

5. "I just wanted to check in with you."
I love when my friends check in on me when we haven't spoken in a while. It can be really easy for us to detach and forget to message you in between doctor's appointments and the daily dose of brain fog. There's a good chance that we really do want to talk to you and see how you are, we just needed the reminder. So feel free to let us know you just wanted to check in on how we are doing.

6. "I know how hard this is for you."
I've noticed that when I share parts of my spoonie life with others they try to downplay how hard this might be for me. They think that we're just complaining and it can't really be that bad. This is really discouraging and can honestly ruin a friendship or relationship. If you let us know that you know how hard it must be for us, it shows us that you really do understand. 

7. "Thank you for using your energy to spend time with me."
This one is a big one! Every aspect of our day takes energy away from us. I know that showering takes so much out of me that I usually end up late to everything afterwards. There's some days that I don't do one task just so I know I'll have enough energy to do another. So it's really important that you understand how special you must be if we are spending time with you. We used a lot of energy to get up and get ready and come see you, even if it's just for a cup of coffee. Thanking us for this shows us that you've acknowledged that you know it was hard for us and you know how important you are to us. 


Photo Credit: someecards

8. "Don't feel bad if you have to cancel plans at the last minute, I understand."
If one of my friends said this to me, I would try so much harder to spend time with them. I don't really have any friends that truly understand what I'm going through and that sometimes I just can't do what I said I would. The other day when my husband and I were in Savannah, I told him that I wanted to explore a couple plazas and then walk around Bay Street. Before we walked into the first mall, he said "It's ok if you don't want to walk around after this, I understand." It made me so incredibly happy to know that he understood how much energy I was using and how it would affect the rest of our plans. 

9. "I'm here for you." or "You're not alone."
I know I'm saying these are all important, but this one really is! A majority of spoonies feel like they're on their own, whether or not they truly are. I know that I do, even though I have my husband there with me. It's just a different kind of alone. We tend to censor the things that we tell our friends and family so they don't know how hard it really is or how scared we really are. It's important that you remind us that you're there for us and you always will be. 

10. "How did your appointment go?"
Some spoonies might not want to talk about it, but personally it's nice to know that you remembered we had an appointment and you actually care about how it went. There's a lot of times that we don't update you because we feel like you don't want to hear more about our medical stuff. So if you do truly want to know, just ask us!

11. "Do you want to talk about it?" 
This one piggybacks off of the last few. We tend to keep information to ourselves and that can be bad for us. I know if I don't have someone to talk to about everything then it's all just floating around in my head and I can't help but think of the worst case scenario and all the risks or things that could go wrong. Asking us if we want to talk about it, opens up the discussion and lets some of those fears off our chest. 


Photo Credit: someecards

12. "You are not a failure." or "You are not a quitter." 
I wish more people would tell me this. I constantly feel like a failure or a quitter because my illnesses have kind of taken over. I've had to leave school and I was upset because I only finished an AA and not a four year degree. I had to leave work and close down the online store I started. There were classes I signed up for but had to cancel because I knew I wouldn't be able to complete them. We've all gone through a point in time where we've had to give up something that we loved; and we need a reminder that it's ok and it's not our fault. 

13. "You don't have to apologize." 
I'm really bad at this one. I feel like since my diagnoses, I've become way more clumsy than I already was. I'm constantly spilling things or dropping things and I always feel bad about it. Sometimes we just need to be reminded that it was just an accident and everything is going to be fine. 

14. "It's ok to talk about it." 
As I mentioned before, we tend to keep the scarier parts of our medical journey hidden. We don't want other people worrying about us and knowing all of the bad things that we know. We assume that you just don't want to know or that we're protecting you. It can really be nice to know that it's ok to talk about it. Just don't tell us it is, if you're not ready for what we might tell you. 

15. "How can I help?"
I know it can be hard to know just the right way to help us. Some of us like help in different ways. Sometimes it's running an errand for us, fluffing our pillows, or even just sitting with us. If you aren't sure what to do or how to help, just ask us!

16. "That must really hurt." 
You wouldn't believe me if I told you how many people think that I'm just faking it. Even my family didn't believe me when I was younger. If we tell you that something hurts, please just believe us. I can almost guarantee you aren't going to want to hear the details. It's also important that you don't try to sugar coat stuff for us. If you know we're having a certain procedure done and we don't know much about it, don't tell us its super fast and an easy recovery. If what you said isn't true, we're probably going to be mad at you for a little bit. Just tell us the truth or just don't say anything.


Photo Credit: someecards

17. "You are strong." or "You are brave."
We might not believe you if you say this to us, but it's still nice to hear. For some of us that haven't quite accepted our illnesses yet, we haven't quite realized that we are strong. Every day we get up and survive even though our body is at war with itself. Sometimes we just don't realize that the fact that we still get up and attempt to reach our goals is brave. We are strong even if we are physically weak. 

18. "Tell me about your illness."
This one is super important! Not many people ask me about my illness or what it's like to walk in my shoes. They either have no idea I even have an illness and just think I complain a lot, or they just don't seem to care. When you ask about our illness, it shows us that you are really attempting to get to know us better and understand us more. It is a wonderful thing to know that our friends and family are putting in the effort to have a better and more understanding relationship with us. 

19. "Do you have some links or favorite resources where I can read more about your illness?"
The last one will always make us feel happy inside, but if you ask us for more information we'll love you forever. I've never had anyone ask me for more information on my illnesses. They usually listing to my small interpretation of what it is and then make a sad face and tell me they're sorry. That reaction doesn't usually make us feel good in opening up this part of our life to you. In fact, we might regret it. 

20. "You look like you're feeling better."
Even if we don't feel better or we don't even look better, it's still nice to hear. It's like when a woman asks you, "Do these pants make me look fat?" No one in their right mind is going to tell that person yes, except maybe I will. I tend to get in trouble for my honesty. Anyways, sometimes we just need to hear something as simple as this to cheer us up. There are days that I really try to look cute, but I still feel horrible and if someone told me this, I know my day would get a little better. 

21. "I'd love to get together with you sometime, when works best for you?"
We really do try not to cancel plans, but sometimes we just can't help it. I've learned that when my friends ask me what works best for me, I am less likely to cancel those plans. Many of us know when is the best time during the day for our bodies and when we have the most energy. I know I'm more open to morning appointments because I have more energy then. I also know that by the time 5 o'clock rolls around, and sometimes earlier, I have to use the wall for support as I walk. Sometimes I even sleep on the couch because I know I won't make it to my bed without falling. It is important to consider what works best for us, that way you don't get upset if we have to cancel. 


Photo Credit: someecards

22. "Is there anything that I can do to relieve you of some stress?"
More than likely we'll say no, because we want to be independent. But some of us will say yes too. We know that we already ask our friends, family, and caretakers for way more than we want to, so we feel bad for asking for more help. If you want to help us or think that you can, feel free to tell us that. Sometimes we just need to know that you're ok with helping us and that we're not being a bother.

23. "I can only imagine how hard this must be for you."
I really like this phrase because I truly hate when people tell me they understand. Whether your a spoonie yourself or as healthy as you can be, you will never know how I feel and I can never say that I know how you feel. So please think about saying this instead of, "I understand how you feel."

24. "You're doing a great job, I can't imagine what I would do if I was in your shoes."
You would be surprised by how many people tell me that they could do it better or that I'm not trying hard enough. You might think I'm kidding, but I'm not. We try really hard just to survive each and every day and each time we're faced with a medical decision, we're afraid of how it might affect us later on. We constantly worry whether or not we made the right decision or if we should get a second opinion. So please don't make us feel even worse about it. This isn't all that easy. 

25. "I sent you something to cheer you up!" 
This one is my favorite. Whether its a full blown care package or a handwritten card, these little gestures will brighten up any day for us. Since I'm not working, I'm not able to send my spoonie friends presents, but I always send them pictures of my kittens anytime I know they're going through a rough patch. Just like you like little surprises from your spouse, we will always accept an unexpected surprise from you. These little things show us that you were thinking of us and that you care about us. 

I really hope this post has helped you understand a little bit more about the spoonie community and how to talk to us. Even I still struggle with what to say and do from time to time, so don't think it's just you!


Spoonies: Is there anything else you'd like to add to this list? Feel free to write it in the comments!

Everyone else: Do you feel like these things would be helpful if said to you? Let us know your answer in the comments!

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