Do you walk on eggshells around people with chronic illness or disabilities? If so, you are not alone.
Maybe you’re a little uncomfortable — you don’t know quite what to say and don’t want to stick your foot in your mouth. You want to ask questions but don’t want to pry. In our “politically correct” world, eggshells are all over the place.
Most literature about chronic illness informs us that stress can aggravate symptoms and cause relapses, and a lot of us can attest to that fact. Avoiding undue stress is a positive thing. However, we cannot divorce ourselves from planet earth and the reality of every day life. Taking the concept of avoiding stress too far, especially within the family, can result in pent-up resentment by all concerned.
Most people who have a chronic illness or disability are functioning members of society and integral members of family life. Rather than avoiding that person or avoiding the problem altogether, why not approach them as you would anybody else?
Adults with chronic illness or disabilities want… and need… to be included in important issues, even potentially negative ones. Family and friends, or even co-workers who overprotect can end up causing more harm than good, adding to their own stress levels in the process. It is a vicious cycle that raises tensions and prevents functional problem solving. Good intentions don’t always equal good outcome. Life is fraught with highs and lows and it is folly to try to protect someone from life itself.
Perhaps you are the one with a chronic illness or disability, going out of your way to paint a rosy picture and keep your problems to yourself. We all want to put our best foot forward and, unquestionably, that’s as it should be. But taken to the extreme, it sends the wrong message and can lead to misunderstandings and unexpressed anger. Clearing the air about problems as they arise will ease tension in the long run.
Eggshells be damned. No more hiding. Rather than allowing chronic illness or disability come between you, make a pact to face it honestly and speak freely. Empowerment is gained through being part of the solution rather than part of the problem. We’re all just people.
Writer Ann Pietrangelo embraces the concept of personal responsibility for health and wellness. As a person living with multiple sclerosis, she combines a healthy lifestyle and education with modern medicine, and seeks to provide information and support to others. She is a regular contributor to Care2.com’s Reform Health Policy blog in Causes. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo.