Helping Your Family To Understand Hepatitis C
When family and friends don’t understand your hepatitis C, it hurts. Hepatitis C is known as a ‘silent disease’ because often symptoms don’t surface until liver damage is evident. It is also categorized as silent because no one physically sees the problem. Since you may not ‘look sick’, others can assume you are not struggling and feeling ill. Fatigue and general unwell feeling often accompany hepatitis C. Family and friends may not understand how hepatitis C affects you.
The first step in communication is understanding
Having a chronic liver condition like hepatitis C and liver disease, patients and families may go through stages of grief. Grief is a feeling of loss and change of any type. Each person handles grief differently.
Depending on your liver condition, treatment, and recovery experience, as well as other medical conditions you may have, you’re experiencing change and loss from your normal life. Your family is experiencing this with you. Hepatitis C and chronic illness doesn’t just affect the patient, they affect the whole family.
Good communication involves a calm volume tone, mindful attitude, and non-accusatory words. If someone communicates out of anger and blows up, it triggers conflict and only complicates a breakdown of understanding.
Studies show that more than 50% of communication is non-verbal, some is voice volume tone, and less than 10% is based on the actual words. It’s often not what you say, but how you say it that matters.
A good communicating technique in a non-accusatory way is to use “I” statements instead of “You”. For example, “I feel hurt when this is said”. “You” statements and accusing phrases will make the person feel defensive and less likely to resolve conflict. Avoid words and phrases that trigger conflict.
You have a choice to either respond or react to someone’s words or actions. Responding requires pausing and thinking before speaking. Respond in a constructive way rather than react in an emotional manner. Be in control rather than allowing your emotions to be control.
Joining a support group is helpful in many ways. You and your family need support and encouragement from others who understand what you’re going through. This helps relieve frustration and anger and helps you deal with hurt feelings and changes that you're going through.
Consider seeing a family counselor, pastor, or life coach who understands liver disease and chronic conditions. These professionals can offer guidance and help everyone communicate with love and understanding. Invite your family members to go with your doctor’s appointments so they can ask questions and receive information from your healthcare team in order to understand what you’re experiencing.
Communicate appreciation to others when they do something helpful and kind. Gratitude and kind words go a long way in fostering a good relationship.
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