a trashcan with crumbled up speech bubbles in and around it.

5 Things a Flaring Friend Doesn't Need

There are a million and one ways that you can be helpful to a friend that is having a tough time with their rheumatoid arthritis. You can get them ice or heat packs. You can make sure their Netflix is stocked with awesomeness. Or you could make sure they have their assistive devices handy.

All these things are super-helpful to an RA patient in need. But as much as there are great things you can do, there are also a multitude of things that we don’t need as well. Consider this a gentle, if perhaps slightly sarcastic reminder of 5 things a flaring friend doesn’t need.

5 things a flaring friend doesn’t need

1. Don’t offer advice

No matter how well-intentioned you may be, you can keep all your well-meaning advice to yourself. The last thing that we need to hear when we feel like garbage is all the things that YOU think we “should” do or try to feel marginally “better.” Please, don’t offer your advice, no matter how much you really want to. Instead, simply listen to us.

2. Don’t pity me

Yes, it may hurt you to see me this way and, believe me, I’m sorry for that. But please, don’t pity me. I know this is bad. You (probably) know this is bad. But I really don’t need your pity and if you want to throw a pity party, please, do it somewhere else. Instead, focus on what I can do.

3. Don’t leave me all alone

This is true for me, but not necessarily for everyone. I don’t like to be left all alone to wallow in my own pain when I’m having a flare. I like a little distraction. You don’t need to “entertain” me. Nor do you need to carry on intriguing conversations. But there is enormous power in your simple presence. Instead, just be with me.

4. Don’t think I’m lazy

It might be very easy for you to think I’m lazy when the dishes pile up in the sink or baskets of laundry litter the floor. But I can assure you, I am anything but. If you had any idea of the sheer willpower and determination that I need to have simply to put my aching feet on the floor each morning, then there is no way you would ever think that I’m lazy. Despite all evidence you may think you see to the contrary. Everyone says, “Oh, it must be so difficult living with that.” But if it comes down to inconveniencing them, they will be the first to put on those judgy pants and whisper behind their hand, “I just don’t understand (blah, blah, blah)…” to anyone who will listen. Perhaps instead of doing that, just love me.

5. Don’t judge me

You can take those judgy-mcjudgy pants off right now and pitch them right out the window. There is no room in any relationship for judgement of any kind. Harsh criticisms and condemnations don’t do anyone any good. Think about it, has anyone in the history of forever, ever changed anything because of the judgement of others? Nope. Nada. Yes, I know that sometimes it can be very easy to do and our brain sometimes goes there without our permission. But passing judgement on others from atop your high horse is absolutely the wrong thing to do to someone with RA. Or anyone else for that matter. You don’t know what anyone else’s life is like so there is no room for you to judge others. Instead, just accept me for who I am.

As much as you might be tempted to do these, please try your hardest to refrain. On behalf of myself and my other flaring friends in the world, we thank you.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

More on this topic

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.