In Consideration of Others

Nobody lives in total isolation, and in general we should never isolate ourselves from those around us who care about our quality of life and health.

With spouses, partners, and other significant people in our life, it is important to consider their well being and how our illness impacts them day-to-day and over time.

It is not always all about us, despite the need for us to focus on getting well again.

I am not lecturing anyone on how to act, and I have done my share of causing grief for those around me because of my past mood swings and complaining. I am not so proud of my behaviour in those days to be frank. When I treated with Peg and Riba it was very bad. How bad? Well…I did some scary things that were entirely out of character for me. The new treatments appear to cause less rage in most people but that doesn’t mean that we are always considerate of others outside of treatment, either before or after treating.

I am not suggesting that your own experience is the same as it was for me, but it is hard to understand for those around us. In the HCV community we have said for years how nobody understands how we feel, and nobody without lived experience “gets it”. I agree and have said it myself, and why would someone get it if they had never experienced it, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t care.

This can be said about a lot of things I am sure, but the unique nature of how this virus affects us may be different to most other illness. The stigma alone can be devastating.

Imagine how difficult it is for someone close to you when you say these things, not to mention the impact on your relationship when they feel unable to help because you can’t show them an injury and you look just fine to them, aside from what the lab reports indicate and what you say. Education is good but not everyone will respond as we would want or expect. This is no indictment of them, as it is not unusual for others not to share in our zeal to understand what is happening with our own health, with exceptions.

Patience is not always easy; especially with those we care about or spend a lot of time with. The old saying about-familiarity breeding contempt- can be true, and safety and familiarity can also cause us to be careless in how we communicate. I am guilty of this myself on occasion.

Sometimes our filter does not work as it should and we say things that may not be meant in the way they come out as, but hopefully we can at least be aware of the harm words can do. The old “sticks and stones” saying does not always apply.

Living with HCV is hard enough, and if our social relationships are made more difficult it adds even more on the heap of challenges. It is my hope that both the person directly affected and those around us can make the effort to be sensitive to one another’s feelings. Talking about it is one good way to air any grievances before they fester into outright aggression or indifference, and if necessary or possible, seeking out a peer navigator, professional counselor, or the ear of a trusted friend may help.

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