I think many people feel a natural inclination toward not wanting to bother other people, to put them out of their way, to cause them any inconvenience. Being sick has changed this inclination somewhat. Perhaps some of you reading this post do not have UC yourself but are close to someone who does and you can chime in on this theory, but I often get the sense that family and friends are relieved to have something to do that will help. My view is that it is very difficult to watch someone struggle with illness and be unable to do anything to help them, so that being given a task that they know will help make you a little more comfortable is welcome. For example, people seem very eager to help with things like getting food, giving rides, bringing books and movies. They seem thankful to know what to help rather than burdened by the task.
Types of support can be broken down into 2 major categories: (1) tangible (e.g., rides, food); and (2) intangible (e.g., emotional support, spending time). I found it important to figure out who was good at what and then look to the appropriate people for what they are good at/what they are comfortable with. In addition, it was important to figure out what I was comfortable with receiving from whom. I really wanted most of my emotional support to come from my partner and certain friends, so I would discuss those issues with them and avoid those issues with other people. My brother likes to be the protector and to take care of things, a role I’m comfortable with, so I would often ask him for rides or to take me out in my wheelchair when I was in the hospital and couldn’t walk.
Intangible support can be broken down further into informational support (information from an expert or from another individual who has had the same experience – probably why most people are reading this site) and emotional support (general reassurance that can come from anyone whether they have specialized knowledge or not). Emotional support is very, very important (of course!) but I have found that hearing about other’s experiences and having the opportunity to ask questions of another person who has had a similar experience to be invaluable. While many people can sympathize, there are few who can truly empathize, and that should can be a very beneficial experience.