How to help a friend who's struggling

I have never felt more helpless in life than when my friends are struggling physically or mentally. It can be hard to know what to do to help and easy to become overwhelmed and do nothing. Over the years I have noticed what I have appreciated most when unwell and what my friends have found the most supportive from me when they are struggling. So here is a list, I hope it helps.


  • Know their love language - There are five love languages: words or affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. Once you understand how they feel love you can start to feel more in control of how to best support them. This website explains everything and even has a quiz you and your friends can do to find out your love languages. All of my friends and I have done the quiz and talked about how we feel loved and it has helped our relationships so much!

  • Reach out - Send a text, give them a call, drop by for a visit, send a carrier pigeon; show them that you are thinking of them. Honestly that can mean more than any extravagant gift or gesture!

  • Research - When my friends and family research my conditions or diseases it honestly makes my heart burst. It shows that they want to learn more and be able to understand what I am feeling and going through.

  • Stay Present - Chronic health problems and mental illness can be unpredictable and seem like they take over your entire life. Check in on your friends even when they may seem fine or unaffected by their illness.

  • Ask questions - If you feel stuck, reach out and ask your friend if there is anything they think you can do to help. They may not know what you can do but they will know you are there when/if they think of something that you can do to help.

  • LOOK AFTER YOURSELF TOO - this is important (n.b. the capitals). You are important too, check in on your own mental health and capacity to help others. Put on your own oxygen mask before anyone else's.

I am beyond grateful for my friends and family and how they have grown with me through my mental and physical health issues. I wouldn't be here without them.


My sister helping me do my hair during a hospital stay



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