“I couldn’t do this alone.”
Without context this statement might sound a little self-defeating, but it’s true, and it touches something deep and very real about our humanity. Humans are fragile, breakable things and each and every one of us needs to rely on others for support. We have no choice in the matter.
That said, support looks different for everyone. Some have only a handful of people on which they rely while others have built big personal networks of supporters. For those living with a chronic health condition, the list of support people can get pretty big. From doctors and nurses, to family and fellow patients, every person who helps is another brick on the road to acceptance and management.
Sometimes when the path is long and twisted, it’s easy to lose sight of the people who help along the way. That’s why, during this season of giving thanks, we asked members of our community who they are most thankful for and why. The resulting response was overwhelming and deeply moving. We couldn’t share every response we received (there were so, so many!) but here’s what some of them had to say:
Thank you for not judging or making me feel guilty for being sick.
“To my husband I feel so grateful for not making me feel guilty about being sick, especially with the financial strain it places on our family.” –Anonymous
“When everyone around me was judging or telling me it was just stress, my partner could see what I was going through. Obviously he couldn’t ‘understand’ it – hells bells, neither could I at the time – but he simply supported me. He became chief cook and bottle washer of the household and managed the financial implications of my inability to work for 3 years. He took on whatever was required to keep our family of six heading in the right direction. He accepted my new, not so improved, body image. He listened. He didn’t stop loving me. I am forever grateful.” – Tracee
Thank you for helping even though you may not understand.
“My greatest source of support has been my family. They’ve encouraged and supported me through the days and weeks when my pain flares, but have also cheered with me when the pain is less. To them, I’d like to say an overwhelming thank you!! Without the support from my family, I would be much worse, especially my depression. They might not totally understand my pain, but they’re always there for me.” – Emily
“My wife has been there the most, and gets my mood swings when she doesn’t deserve it. Thank you for bearing with me. There are better days ahead. I love you very much, sorry I don’t show it very much.” – Wayne
Thank you for helping me keep my sanity and strength.
“My family has been with me through appointments, held me during agonizing pain, and taken off the load of everyday life when I’m unable to hold it up. They have been my reason to keep going, the reason that I’ve kept my sanity and my strength…It was my family that kept me from going over that brink of being suicidal. Having good support is vital to living.” – Martina
“I could list the pain, discomfort, anxiety, fear, sadness and other negative things I live with daily but I also have joy and amazing support…a wonderful husband, 6 kids, 8 grandkids, many friends, a 42 year career as a nurse, giving people hope to survive the odds…this is what I try to focus on.” – June
Thank you for doing more than your fair share.
“My husband does everything for me. He keeps the home we live in clean. He cooks, washes, etc. He holds down the household. I don’t know where I would be without him. He’s a good man! He doesn’t complain about anything. He does his best to make me comfortable and happy.” – Tammi
“We have two daughters and our oldest has high functioning autism. A lot of things fall on my husband because of my illness. He never complains. I hate that most of the responsibilities fall on his back, but I can’t do much about it. I don’t know where I would be without his support and love.” – Susan
Thank you for making things a little bit brighter
“She made me feel loved, normal, and like I was not alone with my struggles. She made me smile and laugh when I was sad and full of anger. To her I’d say, ‘Thank you for giving me hope. Thank you for making me feel important and worthy. Thank you for being a friend.’” – Alison
“I think you all are amazing and brave. I would like to thank you for lending your strength to me when I am weak. I realize being a caregiver is not easy it takes a toll emotionally and physically. Your unending love and support are what keep me inspired on my journey with being chronically ill. I am truly grateful and humbled to have you all in my life.” – Toby
Thanks for my own spirit and for the support of other patients.
“Although my husband, my family, and my friends offer an abundance of love and support, it takes someone else who is walking this journey to really understand and be there in both the good and bad times. There are no words that can completely express how much [my online support group] means to me. I continue to pray that I will be here for a long time to come, reaching out to other patients and letting them know they will never, never be alone.” – Christine
“I have a good network of friends and family, but, when it comes down to it, I’m really in this by myself at the end of the day. It really does start and end with me. I must say that I’m proud of myself. I was diagnosed with Progressive MS back in 1977 or 1978 while I was a sophomore at Fordham University. I’m presently wheelchair-bound. I wake up EVERY morning with a smile on my face and fight this beast.” – Michael
“[My woman’s group] taught me to love myself and accept my condition. They encouraged me to help others through my own experiences. I would like to say, ‘Thank you for saving my life!’” – Angel
We’ll close with a message from community member, Stuart: “The caregivers of this world deserve our utmost thanks and appreciation! It takes angels of all kinds to take care of the chronically ill or elderly and takes great courage and strength to watch as loved ones succumb to endless agonies. Would you step up to that plate?”
Here at Health Stories Project, we are thankful to you, our community, for sharing your messages of thanks.