Deciding whether or not to talk, or write, about your health is a pretty loaded choice.
For starters, one’s health is obviously a pretty personal thing. There is a reason why health care professionals aren’t allowed to share your health details others, unless you have given explicit permission.
Not only are some issues rather personal, and uncomfortable to share, but they might also be embarrassing.
Sharing certain details might only cause other people to become anxious, worried, ask inappropriate questions that you don’t feel comfortable answering, badger you about your treatment plan, or make you feel uncomfortable in other ways.
I personally love the Ring Theory. It basically outlines that we all have circles within circles. Inside is us, and then the inner circle is the person, or people, that is closest to us. That’s who you can rely on in an emergency, and can share anything with. For example, your spouse, parents, or best friend. The next circle is the people who you are close to, but aren’t necessarily people who you’d consider to be in your inner circle. Then there is another circle with other friends or acquaintances, followed by the general public (you can add in other circles if you need to, of course).
The theory talks about sharing out, as in, you should only ever share your worries with people in a circle above us. If you find yourself upset because a friend is ill, then the person in the middle of that circle is your friend. You then cannot go to your friend, or their spouse, to talk about how upset you are. This is because they are closer to the issue, and so it is unfair of you to place your burdens on them.
Flipping it around, you should limit what you share going up in your circles to ensure that you protect yourself, and make sure you are comfortable with who knows your medical information.
For example, maybe you found out that your medical condition is likely to cause x problem in the future. It’s a worry, but there is nothing you can do now. You tell your partner because it affects them, and they are in your inner circle. You might also tell a couple friends in your second circle because they are good to talk to, and you can trust them. You might not want to share outside of those circles though, or to others, because it’s more of a hypothetical future problem and it might also be too personal to share.
I have made the choice to be pretty open about my health issues. I talk about them with friends and family, and write on here.
I do this because I am personally happy to be honest about what’s going on in my life. I also believe that opening up about living with chronic conditions can help raise awareness and end the stigma and misunderstandings that exist with disabilities.
You see, people who don’t have a chronic disease usually don’t really have any good understanding of our illnesses and disabilities. They might also judge us for not working, our lifestyle decisions, using mobility devices, etc.
So, talking and writing can help combat these erroneous beliefs.
That all being said, I do, admittedly, censor what I say, and to whom.
I try to be very honest and real, especially on here, but there are some details that I only feel comfortable keeping in my inner circles. At least for now. And that is okay.
My health information is mine, and just because I choose to be open about a lot of things, doesn’t mean that everyone is entitled to know everything about me.
Sharing health stories is also a powerful part of the chronic illness community.
I personally love reading stories from others with my conditions, or who are going through the same things as me. I have learned so much, and it makes me feel less alone to know that others are in the same boat as me.
Knowing that others might get something out of my writing has helped spur me on to keep sharing my journey. I also find it helpful to share, and get support, and read others’ stories on the Facebook forum, Medical Musings with Friends.
There are downsides to being open about your health of course.
It opens you up to judgement, unwanted advice, and people asking prying questions that you might not be prepared to answer.
You need to be able to find a way to handle those comments and questions, in a way that you feel comfortable with. How I respond depends on what was said, my relationship to who said it, and the circumstances.
If you have a chronic disease, and you don’t feel comfortable sharing your health journey with the world, that’s OK too. It’s your choice as to what circle gets what information. I would just encourage you to share your worries with someone, so that you aren’t carrying your burdens alone.
Because you aren’t. ♥️