Living with an Auto Immune Disease is difficult. Some days harder then others. I pride myself on waking up each day and just thanking my Father for all the precious gifts in my life. I have an amazing family and a few very dear friends. That is all it takes to get me through. As long as they understand me and continue to love me for who I am, what more does one need? It’s been difficult though, even for my family to understand my life with RA. I have seen friends come, and watched them go, partly I think because I can’t keep up with them and their active lifestyles, or that they don’t know about my disease (they think they do) and they don’t want to take time to learn about it and what it really does to my day to day life.
I have found that a key part to my emotional health when dealing with this chronic illness is getting support from others. While it is very difficult to talk about, it’s necessary! You deserve the support that you give your friends and family too!
When communicating about your disorder with friends and family, being honest is the best way to go! Opening up about your condition will give them the opportunity to understand you better. Start by giving them the facts. Just hearing that you have a chronic, serious condition can be difficult for your family and friends. They may not want to believe that you are sick. And their denial can feel like they just don’t care to you… which normally is so far from the truth. Focus on educating your family and friends (your support group) on your illness and point them to resources, such as Web sites or organizations focused on your specific condition. Often you will get a variety of emotions back, denial, anger, frustration and sadness, especially when it comes to hearing about challenges in your everyday life and it’s uncertainties that lie ahead for you. But with time, and communication they will accept it and be more understanding of it. And for those “friends or family” members that don’t take the time to learn or understand and think they have you all figured out as being lazy and a whiner… let it go. Remember, love is unconditional. : )
By being open with your support group, it’ll be easier for you to ask for help when you need it. But remember to choose your words wisely when asking for help. Tell them that you are feeling weak on this particular day and could really use some help, instead of accusing them that they always expect things from you without taking into consideration that you are not well. If you have the right support group, they will understand when you are feeling physically or emotionally vulnerable. And it makes it so much easier and you have less guilt at the end of the day, because you have been open and honest with the people that love you the most and understand you.
So many people I know that suffer from “invisible illnesses” choose not to talk about it with their friends and families, and I feel that they suffer that much more… and alone! You don’t deserve to go through this alone. Nobody does. The only difference with Auto Immune Disease and Cancer, there are no cures for Auto Immune Diseases. People with cancer don’t hide. They get support, and that support often times pulls them through, and if by some chance it does not pull them through… well they have passed away with the love and support from those who love them.
I choose to talk about my disease, and I choose to support others with Chronic Illness, and encourage them to share. You never know who you may help along the way. Now you can choose to love me… or leave me! Your choice…. I got all I need at the end of each day.