A friend of mine recently recovered from a terrible bout of pancreatitis. If you don’t know much about pancreatitis, I’ll spare you the details. Suffice it to say that it can be an incredibly painful, life-threatening condition.

Like me, my friend is an introvert, and he told me that one of the unexpected challenges he faced was dealing with well-meaning family and friends.

When you’re sick with a life-threatening condition, everyone wants to do something to help. They also want to spend as much time with you as possible, in case of the worst.

However, for introverts, the good intentions of loved ones may be the last thing you want. Having to spend so much time with people gets tiring and frustrating. But how do you turn them away without seeming ungrateful?

While we’re on the subject, the best way to treat any illness is to prevent it in the first place. DNA health testing will give you an idea of what conditions you are particularly vulnerable to, so that you can test for them and diagnose them early on.

Here are some tips for dealing with loved ones when you are suffering from an illness.

Apply visiting hours even when out of the hospital

In hospital, you are somewhat protected from being overloaded with love by visiting hours. If people want to come visit, they have a particular window to do so. Family might get some extra time, but even they will have restrictions.

Once you’re out of hospital, visiting hours no longer apply. But they could. You can choose to enforce visiting hours, using your illness as a reason.

If you don’t want to see visitors for more than two hours a day, say that you are unable to. If you want a day off from visitors altogether, say that you are not feeling up to visitors that day.

You can even get your family to enforce these rules for you if you’re not comfortable turning people away. This is your time to recover. Don’t feel guilty if visitors are going to make that difficult for you.

Ask your doctor or nurse for help

But the problem isn’t just that friends and extended family want to visit all the time. Your immediate family may expect you to have all the time in the world for them, especially if you’re living with them.

Telling them to give you space may feel incredibly ungrateful and you know you’ll hurt their feelings. One useful trick is to ask your doctor or nurse for help.

Explain to them that you need boundaries in place if you are to feel safe and get your rest. Ask them if they can inform your family of this.

They will be in your corner on this, and will be respectful in the way they give your family this advice. They won’t tell your family these are your requests either, just that it is better for you if boundaries are set.

As an introvert, accepting help can be very difficult. But in certain circumstances, turning help away can be much harder. When you’re unwell, your boundaries are all the more important.