Imagine someone you care about, a relative or a close friend, has a long term physical ailment. Let’s say they have a bad back. Now let’s add that they’ve been ill with a cold and a sneeze has aggravated their problems so they’re suffering more than normal.
Do you think it is reasonable to shout at them for not putting away groceries, given that it would not be impossible but would be painful for them to reach up to a cupboard?
If they’re feeling down because they haven’t been able to go out and go shopping or meet friends, because they’ve been ill, is it okay to get angry with them for being upset about it? Or to refuse to take them shopping, further isolating them, because they’re over emotional?
You have free minutes on your mobile and it’s no problem to phone their landline or their mobile. If they prefer you call the mobile, physically easier to get to, rather than the landline, do you make this small accommodation? Or do you refuse to talk to them at all because they’re just making a fuss?
Now, imagine the issue isn’t a bad back but a mental illness. It doesn’t matter whether it is depression or anxiety or OCD or PTSD or something like agoraphobia. The point is, someone is suffering, feeling more down than usual, and needing some understanding and for some allowances to be made.
Do you still feel the same way? Do you make allowance for the condition being worse due to another ailment? Do you think they ought to drag themselves to the landline, since their problems are “all in their head”?
We all want people to heal and be the best versions of themselves. We don’t like to see people trapped by mental or physical illnesses and we want to see them ‘try harder’ to get over things. But we need to make allowances and, most importantly, not add to the burden by making them feel unloved or bothersome, especially during times of extra stress.