This question & answer column is for people living with chronic health challenges and their family caregivers, who want to learn to increase the odds of improving their health by learning to live with mastery & wellbeing.
I post to this blog three times per week. Monday posts are articles I’ve written. Wednesday posts are interviews—mostly video. Friday posts consist of your questions about living better with chronic health challenges, and my answers to them.
Someone recently asked me this question during one of my presentations:
It takes me much longer to get things done because I don’t have the energy of other people my age. And they don’t understand. What can I do to avoid losing any more of my friends. Also, I feel ashamed that I can’t keep up.
Answer: It can be extremely challenging to live with chronic illness. As if pain, malaise, fatigue, and physical disability weren’t bad enough, we also need to contend with a lack of understanding from healthy people. Furthermore, it is very easy to feel shame when others fail to empathize.
What I recommend is working to establish a circle of people who are able to empathize. It is essential to build a support network. The ideal support network consists of people who know from personal experience what it’s like to commonly not feel well. Support groups can be wonderful, but be careful to avoid those groups that are nothing but pity parties. The best support groups are those that validate our experiences rather than our stories about those experiences. Increasingly, support groups meet online.
Other than formal support groups, friends, co-workers, and family members can be supportive if you learn how to express to them exactly what you would like from them.
This website is offered as a free public service, supplying information that has been found helpful to certain people living with chronic health challenges. No treatment is offered on this website. The advice is general, and may or may not apply to your individual situation, and is not a substitute for psychotherapy or medical treatment.
What questions do you have about how to live better with chronic health challenges? Each Friday, I will answer your questions in Chronic Illness Q&A with Dr. B.
Just scroll down and type your question in the comment box and you’ll see my response to you in an upcoming Friday post.