The Fallout Guide for Hep C: Support Network
This is part two of a six-part series called The Fallout Guide for Hep C. Six emotional components of living with hep C which are important to address to maintain our sense of self as we traverse the difficult hardships ahead. Check out part one here.
Survival mode can make us forgo things we want to do, even need to do, and it can cause weak friendships to wither.
Bringing friends & family along on the journey
So encourage friends and family to jump the hurdles with you. Almost all of my friends have firsthand knowledge of my experience, not simply because they visited me in the hospital, but because I openly ask each of them to drive me to my endoscopies, colonoscopies, and other procedures. I want them to see firsthand what my experience is. I ask them to actively be a part of my healthcare experience.
Because nothing I can say will show the seriousness of my condition more than firsthand experience.
I am lucky after my transplant, I carry that reminder on my stomach. Because when someone hears you have a condition, they may not initially understand the reality of how that affects you.
Relationships & emotional distance
When in survival mode, this emotional distance becomes larger, which is why I brought friends and family with me to the doc. To make that gap happen less, as the empathetic confirmation of your condition typically brings them closer.
Part of this is a psychological technique called perceptual priming: Priming is a nonconscious form of human memory concerned with the perceptual identification of words and objects. It refers to activating particular representations or associations in memory just before carrying out an action or task. Bringing friends and family with, when going to the doc also removes the potential negative association which can occur as an unconscious bias when that friend of family has no previous association with your being in a medical setting.
The value of having others closeby
There are small things that help close that distance, but every relationship dynamic is different. I closed the gap by keeping a tight group and living with my friends, and thankfully my friends decided to live near me, in a separate apartment maybe a 1,000 feet away.
Proximity is one of the largest factors in any relationship. Living near my friends and family has allowed me to better maintain those relationships than I could have otherwise.
Proximity also has a virtual proxy. Virtual proximity is the frequency of interaction and connections. You've probably already noticed that when you're ill you take to Facebook more often. Imagine when you're always ill, you could practically live on it.
Building a virtual support network
So It's important to build a support network, both virtually (and IRL a.k.a. in real life) know that you're already a part of a fantastic online support group! If you haven't already, sign up and start engaging!
It's also important to remember that when we learn different psychological techniques for dealing with an emotion, or complex series of emotions, that we share these new methods to reinforce memory as well as reinforce the method however conscious we are of that method and most importantly to help others who experience similar struggles. This not only connects and unites communities but helps foster a resilient psychological state for those within it.
Do you try to follow a liver-friendly diet?