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What Not To Say To Someone Who Has Long Covid

5 2 9
24.09.2021

For people with long Covid (a range of new or ongoing symptoms that can last weeks or months following a Covid-19 infection), navigating the unrelenting health issues they’re facing is enough of a challenge. The last thing they need are words of support intended to encourage and motivate, but that really minimise and invalidate their experience.

“The majority of people in my life are supportive of what I’ve gone through since getting Covid,” Rachel Needle, a Covid-19 long-hauler and licensed psychologist at Whole Health Psychological Center in Palm Beach, Florida, told HuffPost. “But there have also been a number of people who have made hurtful comments and been dismissive of my fears and medical issues.”

The main reason you might find yourself saying unhelpful, even hurtful, things as you’re trying to support someone with long Covid is a lack of understanding.

“Psychologically, the less able we are to put ourselves into other people’s shoes, the less able we are to empathise and therefore offer genuine support,” said Naomi Torres-Mackie, clinical psychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and head of research at the Mental Health Coalition.

Another reason is fear. When you feel you don’t have the “right” words to support someone and you let that fear get the best of you, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. “Fear can make you avoid the topic altogether, blurt things out without thinking it through or engage in toxic positivity,” Torres-Mackie said.

To help break this cycle, HuffPost spoke with people experiencing long Covid to find out which shows of support have the opposite effect, as well as therapists for advice on what to say instead, so you can forge a legitimately supportive bond.

Don’t say: ‘Don’t worry, everything’s going to be OK.’

This kind of statement conveys both toxic positivity and false reassurance. “Comments like this often minimise what the person is experiencing,” said Nicholas Hardy, a licensed therapist based in Houston. It also doesn’t acknowledge “the reality of their fears and worries,” he added.

Instead say: ‘Are you worried about anything in particular?’

Opening the door for someone to share their worries and fears normalises their feelings. It gives them the opportunity to outwardly express what they may be holding in.

“When we’re unable to express ourselves in a safe environment, we either conceal our own thoughts and feelings or express them in an unhealthy way,” Hardy said. “In either case, the impact on our social and emotional well-being is damaging.”

Don’t say: ‘At least you recovered.’

Not only is a statement like this unhelpful and minimising,........

© HuffPost


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