What You Can Say to Your Friend With IBD

Do you have a friend or a loved one who has inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)? If so, you probably have heard already some of the uneducated or even upsetting comments that have been said to them about their disease by others. IBD is a lifelong disease, and not only is it still not well understood in a scientific sense, it is also not understood by the general public. You, however, want to help your friend and support them as they navigate through their struggles with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. Here are the things that you can say to show them that you value their friendship. 


"Where Can I Learn More?"

Doing some basic research and learning more about IBD can be a great help to your loved one. Image © Alex & Laila / Stone / Getty Images

People with IBD are usually very forthcoming with information about their disease. If you ask, they'll tell you the basics, and even give you more specifics about what's going on with their disease in particular. Every person with IBD is affected differently, making each story unique. When you ask your loved one where you can learn more about IBD on your own, it speaks volumes. It shows that you're willing to put in the time and to learn more about the disease that has affected them so profoundly. It takes some of the burdens of explanations away and gives hope that you are committed to a long-term relationship.


"It Doesn't Change Anything"

Your friendship is the rare golden egg -- if you nurture it, it will always be something to treasure. Image © Jon Boyes / Getty Images

One thing that people with IBD know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that change is certain. IBD has changed everything about their life. The ​diet that was working last week is now causing pain or other symptoms. The medication that worked last month no longer seems to be as effective. Changes like these can lead to a feeling of powerlessness. It's a sad truth that your friend with IBD has had other relationships that have suffered, with some people drifting away and giving up on the friendship. Knowing that your feelings towards them won't change because of their IBD — that is a priceless gift that you can give


"Can I Get Involved?"

There is always room for anyone who wants to help out with non-profit work. Image © JGI/Jamie Grill / Blend Images / Getty Images

A lot of people with IBD raise money for IBD-related non-profits or other related groups. Nonprofits provide important services to people with IBD such as support groups, education, and even help with managing the financial aspects of IBD. Most groups take direct donations at any time, but donations can also usually be made to support your friend when they are participating in a fundraising event. Going a step further, there are also usually volunteer opportunities available for those who want to get involved



Girls Talking
Truly listening is important to everyone, but it is a lifeline to someone with chronic illness. Image © Mark Cacovic / Moment / Getty Images

Nothing? How can nothing be helpful? Listening is a skill and not one that many people have. Some people don't truly hear when another is speaking; they are only waiting for their turn to talk. When you are willing to listen, really listen, to your friend who has IBD, you are providing them an opportunity to unburden themselves. People with IBD often have experiences that are upsetting, distressing, and embarrassing. Being able to let these feelings out and share them with another person who won't pass judgment is a very effective form of stress relief.

Your Support Is Crucial

Your friend with IBD is very important to you. And you are important to them. The fact that you are interested in supporting them as well as you are able is so very essential to their health. Good friends and a strong support system can make a profound difference in the well-being of someone with chronic illness. When you are happier, you feel better, quality of life is improved, and good friends can help make that happen.

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