Look Outward

Your Loved Ones are Dealing with Their Own Helplessness.

You don’t live in a vacuum. The people around you also influence how you feel emotionally, and how you feel about your diagnosis, and you in turn are having an impact on their reactions.

Does your diagnosis make you feel helpless at times? Think about how you’ve felt when someone you care about has been diagnosed with a medical condition, whether it was life-threatening, chronic in nature, or even just a simple procedure. Most likely, you felt afraid for them, and you wanted to fix everything but didn’t know how. You probably felt helpless and then sidelined as that person needed to cede more and more control in their life to the medical personnel caring for them. You probably felt as if that person was slipping away from you. If their condition resulted in changes in the way you interacted, or in the kinds of things you used to enjoy together, that sense of helplessness, and all of the frustration that can go along with it, may have been intensified.

As human beings, we like to feel we are in control. We like it so much that we tell ourselves we are in control, even when it’s obvious that we aren’t. So there will be those times when your friends’ and family members’ concern starts to feel like house arrest. You will need to learn to cut them some slack. It’s not you they are trying to control but their own sense of helplessness.

Let’s face it. Our attention to ourselves and our care, as well as our treatment compliance, won’t be what it needs to be. Who doesn’t get tired of changes in routine that seem to take the joy and spontaneity out of our lives, or at least how we used to experience joy and spontaneity? And when our loved ones sense your possible lack of commitment to treatment, their helplessness button will get pushed. If you find yourself in a constant dance with the people who care about you, slipping up at times simply to show them they don’t run your life, then you are not being responsive to how your condition is affecting their lives, too.

If this happens, have a talk with the friends and family members you are closest to. Consider making a pact which outlines what you will do to stay in compliance, what you need from them as support-givers, and how you can help them to help you. Communication goes a long way toward helping the people who care about you to understand the things they do that make you feel like a diagnosis and not a person.

And here are some guidelines to help you answer these questions: