Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fantastic Psychology Today Article - Tips for Chronic Illness

I thought this article was so good that I just really needed to post it up, in case anyone who reads my blog hasn't seen it yet.

These tips were so profoundly well written that I couldn't help but be comforted by the fact that there are really other people out there who understand exactly what it means to have a chronic or life-changing illness, what it's like to live it day in and day out.  This is what I am hoping to accomplish through the new health site I am getting more involved in.  I want at least one person out there to say to themselves, "Wow, that sounds exactly like how I am feeling."

The tip I found the most interesting is the one about being sick in the internet age and the age of computers.  The hardest thing about having a chronic illness, in my opinion, is the isolation issue.  And If I had been so sick with fibromyalgia twenty years ago, I would have had absolutely no social life.  As it is, Facebook has allowed me to connect with other people I would never have "met" in real life, either because of the limiting nature of my ability to travel any great distance or because they weren't people I would have run into in the normal course of my day.

I hate to drone on about Facebook constantly, knowing how much Justin, my parents, and even my oldest son don't like it, but I have to say this for Facebook.  I can have social interaction with other people during the day now that I would not otherwise have the opportunity to interact with.  I have made friends from all age groups, all occupations, all stages of child rearing, mid-life crises, others with illnesses.  I have reconnected with people I thought I would never find again from high school and found out what happened to them.

Some of my online life is spilling over into my "homebound" life.  And please understand that I do not mean that I am incapable of leaving the house.  By homebound, I mean the fact that I do not have a paying job outside of my home and I have crippling anxiety about going out.  Social functions paralyze me.  Online, you never have to worry about those awkward moments that crop up that most people glide right past but are agony for people like me with anxiety disorders.  I don't have to worry as much that I will say something stupid (although inevitably I will say something stupid, but a lot of the time, I can catch it and delete it before anyone has had a chance to read it) or show people how stupidly clutzy I am or have them see me try to figure out what the heck we were just talking about or remember their name 10 minutes after I have met them.

Cautiously, because you always have to be cautious, I have begun to slowly put telephone voices to some of these computer names, with the idea that it's actually possible for me to maybe have a few girlfriends, so that all of my internal shit doesn't end up with Justin stepping into it constantly.  He may not like Facebook, but he has to be grateful for that, at least.

I hear that Mark Zuckerberg wants to make it legal for 13 year old kids to have FB accounts.  Well, I have mixed feelings about this.  I don't mind my 14 year old having an account, but I have to have access to his page and I have to be on his friends list.  And he's not that involved in it, so it's not a huge issue.  My youngest, who is 12 and has austim - no way would I let him have one.  I would not want to risk another Phoebe Prince episode either from my child doing the teasing or being the one getting tormented.  It's unreal how intense the emotional fallout can be from things that are said in a mean spirited way online.  And teenagers aren't able to reason things out as well as adults, nor are they able to step back, think about how to respond, and then figure out if they should respond.  It's a minefield already being a teenager, so this is a whole other subject.

But...what I really wanted to do was to point you to the Psychology Today article if you have not already read it.  I think I'm going to go read it again.  And then hang it on my refrigerator, where my family can read it when they think I'm not looking.


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