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Privacy May Not Be Your Friend

Posted Oct 10 2008 12:50pm

I was at a presentationt his week sponsored by the Lupus Foundation and the Arthritis Foundation.  At the end of the talk a woman in audience asked a question about telling people about her illness.  She seemed a bit ashamed and distraught because her health seemed to be getting in the way of her relationships.

It seems that friends were getting frustrated with this woman's unpredictable nature.  If she were not feeling well she would cancel on plans at the last minute but not share her illness.  Her frends were starting to leave her out of the loop and that was disheartening.  So what's a person to do.

The truth is that honesty is the best policy.  I'm not recommending that you take out an ad in the Sunday paper announcing your illness, but if your friends feel you're not being truthful it frustrates them and keeps them at arms length at a time when you may need them the most. 

Tell only those who need to know.  The person you see a couple of times a year may not need to know if you're feeling very private about your health.  Those who are part of your inner circle that you have ongoing contact with shouild be told so they can offer compassion and support.  Illness doesn't need to be shameful and keeping it locked away in your body isn't going to help you.  

Utilize good judgment when disclosing your health status.  Think about who needs to know and why.  If someone is starting to ask on a regular basis if anything is wrong; they are telling you they know something is up, so just come clean.  You'll feel lighter and in the end you'll strengthen your relationships.

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