A chronic illness can be rough on both the person with it and their loved ones. Nobody wants to see a loved one suffer, and most people want to help a partner with a chronic illness. But if you haven't been through something similar yourself, it can be very hard to know how to do that, especially while also experiencing the challenges of having a partner with a chronic illness.
"Partners of individuals with chronic illnesses are often over-worked and neglected," psychotherapist Ruschelle Khanna, LCSW, tells Bustle. "They are required to become medical experts just like the person going through the illness. They are required to be fully understanding of mental health and cognitive symptoms that can be confusing and hard to watch. In terms of how they can be more supportive, I would emphasize that they also focus on their own self-care. Caregiver burnout is real, leading to possible mistreatment of the person being cared for."
In addition, people should believe their loved ones when they express difficulty completing daily tasks. "For partner caregivers, it is important to believe that this is a real experience and to try to find accommodations such as someone to help with housekeeping if possible," Khanna says.
Speaking as someone with a chronic illness, here are some things our partners can do to support us.