Do you have a chronic illness?
A chronic illness is a long-lasting health condition that may not have a cure. It can affect all aspects of an individual’s life. Moreover, it encompasses both mental and physical illnesses. For instance, depression, diabetes, are categorized as chronic illnesses. It’s no news that chronic illness frustrates you, your family and friends. This physical and emotional stress can affect the quality of your personal relationships. Do you have a chronic illness?
How you respond
It is difficult to manage long-term conditions, for instance, fibromyalgia, it’s tiring and time-consuming. You may avoid interacting with other people. It can even be more frustrating to tell others what you are experiencing because you may feel that no matter how supportive your family and friends are, they cannot understand a chronic illness unless they experience it. It may seem easier to withdraw and say little than to repeatedly explain your thought, feelings, and symptoms.
However, these behaviors may send the message that you do not want your family and friends’ affection.
How your family and friends respond
They are probably frustrated and confused. In the beginning, they will show a great deal of support. They may care for you and do things for you.
As time goes on, they may start to wonder what is going on. Their support may start to wear thin. They may come around less, they may seem to have less time for you.
How to communicate with loved ones
Communication is the key to building and maintaining any relationship, it lets people know your thought, needs, and feelings.
Below are suggestions to help you improve your communication skills
Try this :
- Be open and honest. Your family and friends will understand your thoughts and feeling if you tell them.
- Be concise. Let people know about your experience. For example, you can say “I am having a difficult day.” It lets them know you need time to yourself.
- Don’t lie about your symptoms. Don’t pretend your symptoms are gone but don’t exaggerate them either. You might say things like”I still have pain, but it’s manageable.”
- Be assertive. Express your needs and thoughts in a respectful, honest and direct way.
- Reconstruct a positive outlook. It can be difficult to do when dealing with chronic illness, but laughter is the best medicine.
- Avoid endless complaining. It can become tiresome. Instead, talk about things you are unhappy about and would like to change such as a routine you would change to have a better outcome.
- Use the “I” statements to describe problems. This statement avoids blaming the listener while emphasizing your needs and wants. For instance, “I feel neglected when you exclude me in your plans with our kid.”
- Be a good listener. Keep eye contact, avoid distraction, nod or smile at appropriate times. Make you understand what is been said by paraphrasing and do not interrupt the speaker.
- Ask for help when needed. It’s easier said than done. But you need it sometimes.
- Be gracious and appreciate the help you get.
- Take time to educate friends and loved ones as to what the illness is and it will look like in the future.
- Your focus and priorities as a couple will change, knowing what you know about the illness and its progression, you need to review and reconsider your life objectives.
Be willing to cross the communication barrier. When communication between you and your family becomes one-sided, let go of your pride and risk saying exactly what you feel.
It takes time to become a better communicator, so be patient with yourself and your loved ones. Seek professional help if communication is not getting better.
What are some of the challenges you have living with a chronic illness? Do you feel supported? What would you like to change for a better outcome?
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