This month in WEGO health blogging is our health and relationships, specifically:
Your condition vs. yourself
Your condition vs. your love life
Your condition vs. your family
Your condition vs. the day-to-day
Your condition vs. technology
Your condition vs. misconception
Your condition vs. yourself –
I do tend to focus on this one quite a bit. That inner battle we face constantly. That love-hate relationship with our bodies. When I am optimistic there is nothing I won’t do to improve the quality of life I can have, but when that does not give me much of a life my pessimism eradicates all my efforts pretty darn fast. Life itself becomes a bit of a challenge and I think as a result we are more introspective, but that can also mean far more self-critical. In other words, it is a very delicate balance.
Your condition vs. your love life –
I am fortunate here since I have been in a long-term relationship going on fourteen years now. One that I was already in when I was diagnosed with FMS and then later when the migraines became chronic. Now it could have gone either way. He might have felt that my increasing lack of health and hermit tendencies held him back and maybe he would begin to resent that. Or the guilt of not being able to pull my weight might have made me run. But we stuck through it, but it is not without its price. It is not easy on either party really and I find I try not to disclose the blunt truths of my health to him because he cannot do anything about it and best not to have him worry. Many relationships break under the strain and like with all other facets of our lives we must make compromises because of our health. Fact is, no one is healthy forever, therefore, health problems that occur are just another stressor on a relationship, like many other things. If I were not in a relationship, however, and just in that dating stage I am not sure I would disclose my health issues right away, in fact, I would be tempted to hide them all together like it is some sort of weakness or something. Knowing this, if I were single, I likely would choose not to get into a serious relationship.
Your condition vs. your family –
When we think of the price of chronic illness and pain we cannot forget the toll it takes on loved ones. Life is not a solitary activity and every life touches others in ways we can never completely know. Likewise suffering touches all those around us. I remember when my little brother had cancer and then when my spouse did I felt an intense fear for their lives, but even more than that I hated seeing their pain and would have done anything to take it for them. And perhaps it is hard to see but others feel the same with my suffering. They likely feel the very same loss of control, being unable to take away my pain and don’t know what to do or say to make it better. The problem is trying to maintain a connection with family and friends. Being a loner at heart I do not need as much human attention as most people do need which means it is all too easy to let family and friends drift away, without my realizing how much time has passed or how to correct the rift. It takes a lot of energy to maintain this sort of relationship, or at least it takes a lot of energy to be a good friend to others and it seems I fall short on that side of things. It is easier to maintain friendships with people that understand contact and socialization with me will be sporadic at best. Nevertheless, it is a fundamental aspect to our well-being and we need to maintain those connections.
Your condition vs. the day-to-day –
I’d call this coping. Getting through the day for work and home is part balance and part distraction. We need to have balance and to know when we are pushing beyond our limits, to understand what our limits are and still manage to get all the things done we need to do. Such necessities as work require enough distraction to keep our focus on the physical health so we can get through the day.
And I get through the weekday by day trying to not dwell on the past or think about the future.
Your condition vs. technology –
Working on a computer all day under fluorescent lights is nota good thing for migraines. However, I have ways around that with FL-41 specs. So the technology to counter technology. At home I use F.lux, a program, on my computer to make the light softer and anti-blue light, so migraine friendly. There are apps I use to track my pain and for meditation. I am all for technology. And for ways to get around technology so I can use it.
Your condition vs. misconception –
Ah, the stigma how I hate it. I don’t mention fibromyalgia to anyone really because what people know about it is very little and it is often mocked as a pseudo-disease that enables people to go onto disability rather than the complex syndrome it is. So if I explain my health condition I tend to explain the syndrome first and then add the name. With migraines it is a different story. Many people understand what a migraine is, but cannot comprehend how I can function with chronic ones… because they cannot understand the process we all go through to cope with chronic pain such that we tolerate a great deal of pain regularly and only have a hard time hiding or functioning with worse pain. I find it odd that people think that just because I am ill I should act sick all the time and all ‘woe is me’. That somehow laughing, which is a great way to mask the pain as less than it is, suggests I am not in pain at all. Then I have strong issue with employers and work insurance companies that define disability as an obvious physical impairment such that pain itself is not a disability, which means it does not qualify for long-term leaves of absence or any real effort on the employers part to compromise with work conditions… it is all or nothing with them.
Yes, we do not live in isolation… we always live in relation to others, our environment and our society. Every single one of those is changed by chronic illness in ways that even we do not always see the effects and consequences.