As an epileptic, probably the least useful such phrase I've encountered is "It could be worse." You tell someone, maybe someone close, about something that's perhaps destroying your life, or maybe only providing a series of unwanted obstacles. Their response? "Well, it could be worse".
"I had a seizure, I can't drive for the next six months."
"Oh! Well, at least you're not in the ICU. It could be worse."
|Well maybe this could be worse. (Photo copyright US Navy?)|
I mean, sure. I don't have the brain tumor the doctors initially feared. I'm not going into the emergency room or the intensive care unit once or twice (or more!) a year. I'm not taking four or five medications, I don't need a bed rail when I sleep, I can even drive in reasonable safety. There are loads of other people I know who are worse off than I am.
But "it could be worse"? What does that do for me? I'm not always as badly off as I think I am, but I'm not always as well as I could be either. I don't need to be babied. I don't want to be babied. But my epilepsy is real, and it has real effects on me, and I need you to get that.
Look, I get that you might not know what to say. And yes, saying something is better than saying nothing. Saying nothing at all is just cold. But you want to know what to say? Try these:
"That's rough. Need anything?"
"I hear you. Can I help?"
Just something to let me know that you sympathize, that you're listening, and that you're willing (sincerely) to be there and help out as much as you can if needed.
Life's not usually hard for me. (Like it can be for my friends Daisy and Nichole.) But it can be, and your recognition of that fact is a very basic way to help me, a way to affirm that what I'm going through isn't insignificant and harmless. Could you at least give me that much?