‘Just the tip(s)’ is a series of posts with ideas of ways that friends and family can make different situations less stressful for people they care about with conditions like EDS.
Where shall we go for tea?
I hate this question because I am very conscious of the fact that I ask to go to the same place every time we eat out. Even before I got really poorly, I’ve always been very easy to please; I could eat the same meal every day without getting bored, if it was a food I liked. However I am aware that this is not normal (Me? HA!) and that variety is the ever-desirable spice of life. When you ask me “Do you want to go for dinner?” I want nothing more then to be able to say “Let’s go try that new Japanese restaurant” or even just “What’s your favourite place? Let’s go there!” but in reality it would be horrible.
The magic words…
Unless you suffer from anxiety, I don’t think I could ever make you understand how being in an uncomfortable situation can be incredibly draining and make things even more difficult for someone. The best thing you could possibly say to me is something like “Let’s meet up for dinner at Pizza Hut” or “Are you busy on Friday? We could go to Pizza Hut.”
This takes away any anxiety and worries I might have – that I am boring you by going to the same restaurant, whether the venue is accessible etc. It means I can focus all my attention on catching up with you and actually being present in our conversations and enjoying our evening together. Unsurprisingly, this makes for a much better time for me than thinking “How am I going to get to the toilet?” or “I’m really tired from navigating those obstacles just to get in here; I think I’m going to have to go home early… How do I tell them?”
Pizza Hut? Is this post sponsored?
Hahahhahaha… Hahahhahaha! No. Although if you know any Pizza Hut employees that can make that happen, I would be so down. It just happens that this particular restaurant is pretty much the only place in the town that I live that I can get to without needing assistance from a carer. There is a big difference between being wheelchair accessible and wheelchair friendly – including things like whether any ramps provided are too steep to manage alone and how far the car park is from the venue.
My local Pizza Hut is a safe space; somewhere I feel completely comfortable and independent – the latter of which is incredibly important to me. I know that there is an accessible toilet. I know that I can move easily between the tables, without people having to awkwardly scooch their chairs in making me feel like a right pain in the ass. This even goes a step further in that the regular staff know my preferred table and make no fuss about clearing it for me even when it’s really busy. Maybe I do go there a little too much… But I don’t care! Going to Pizza Hut is relatively easy for me, and so little of my life is now. It’s one of the few places I can still be totally self-reliant and I love it.
What I’m thinking:
If you couldn’t bear the thought I’m having to eat at Pizza Hut for the gazillionth time, then you wouldn’t suggest to me that we should go there. The fact that you have really reassures me and makes me feel confident in the fact that I’m not being a burden or difficult. You also get major brownie points*!
It’s pretty easy to avoid me altogether and I really don’t think any less of people for doing so – so if Pizza Hut is too expensive for the amount of month left at the end of your money, or too mainstream for your highly-refined and cultured palate, there’s no harm in chatting with me online or some other social interaction that doesn’t involve us going anywhere. Y’know if I’m not asleep or something.
Thanks for reading this week’s edition of Just The Tip(s)!
*The Stripey Wife “Brownie points” are not in anyway associated with any kind of real-world Brownies, including but not limited to the small child kind and the delicious chocolate kind. The Stripey Wife “Brownie points” are not redeemable in stores anywhere, nor have any monetary value. Acquiring The Stripey Wife “Brownie points” is done so at your own risk. May contain traces of butts.
These are things that I personally find helpful or positive. If you are seeking ways that you can help someone you know with EDS or another chronic condition, please feel free to use this post for inspiration, but remember that everyone is different. If in doubt check with the person you are supporting <3