June 18, 2018 at 8:49 am #13100
Thank goodness we’re not all the same. Life would be pretty dull if everyone had the same skills, interests or personalities. There are a number of memes, quotes and metaphors out there that highlight the importance of being different and how different personalities make us all unique. Even among my “circle of support” and closest members of my support network, this couldn’t be more true.
Recently I was talking to my transplant coordinator about the people I rely on to support me throughout this journey of living with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). During that conversation I was telling her about those closest to me, including friends, family members and colleagues, and how different each of them are. She highlighted for me how lucky I am that the people in my support networks differ, and how I should harness this and lean on each of them during different times.
When she elaborated a bit more, she helped me understand how each unique personality can be beneficial at different times throughout my illness. When I reflected on what she said, I couldn’t agree more and realized that I am already relying on different people and their unique personalities to help me through certain parts of living with IPF. Here are a couple of those personality-types that are most helpful to me:
- Blunt, but still supportive: sometimes when I am feeling unwell, or experiencing a symptom that I know warrants a hospital visit, I complain about having to go. None of us like visiting or being admitted to the hospital and my friends know that, but a few of them are pretty blunt about why it is important that I go when I am unwell. These friends say things like, “you need to get better and the hospital will do what is best for you”, or “if that is what you need then go”. They support me by encouraging what I need and can often be pretty blunt about what will happen if I don’t go. These people tell it like it is, and I love them for it.
- Problem-solvers: these are the people who immediately jump into action when something is not right and look for a resolution. My diagnosis has been hardest on these people because there is nothing they can do to “fix it”. However, when I have struggled with different aspects of this disease, they are the ones to jump in and try to come up with a solution to my struggles. I am thankful for these people, as they are usually the folks who come up with practical or tangible tools to resolve a problem I am having.
- Avoiders: even within my circle of support and among those closest to me, I have some people who just want to avoid the fact that I am living with a life-threatening lung disease. That said, even these people are helpful to me at various times. Sometimes I want to forget that I have IPF entirely and I turn to these people to help provide me with some normalcy or to be a good distraction from medications, symptoms, appointments and disease-focused conversation. I am just as thankful for these people as I am for all the other types of personalities that help me cope with IPF.
What types of personalities are most helpful to you as a patient living with IPF?
June 19, 2018 at 2:29 pm #13130Sheila BlanchardParticipant
Hi Charlene, I have three good friends who support me,one in particular who has cancer she has just gone through a session of radiation, we try to cheer each other up.Its just that we live so far away from each other,almost an hour away.We keep in touch through the phone.My daughter takes me to all my appointments. Which I appreciate as she has to take time off work to do so.
June 22, 2018 at 2:05 pm #13160
Thank you so much for contributing your thoughts to this thread.
I am certainly glad to hear that you have some close friends that support you through difficult times, that is so important! It also sounds like both you and your friend who is living with cancer are very helpful to one another. Even though your illnesses are not the same, the similarities of living with a chronic illness are likely parallel and something you can relate to one another. I am glad to hear that you have one another, although it stinks you live so far apart. Do either of you use an iPhone? You could also use Facetime to Skype on a regular computer to speak to one another, that way you could see her in addition to hearing her voice just on the phone. Just an idea – I love Facetiming with friends who are far away 🙂
Thanks again for sharing Sheila, it is wonderful to hear how you’re doing. Know that you’re among friends here, who also have various personalities!
Take care 🙂
June 21, 2018 at 10:26 am #13144gilParticipant
I have mostly Avoiders but my sister and niece are supportive and valuable friends.
June 22, 2018 at 2:08 pm #13161
It is so good to hear from you my friend – how have you been doing?
I am very glad to hear about your sister and niece and how they continue to be supportive to you throughout this journey. Do you ever find that the ‘avoiders’ in your life are actually helpful? I know this sounds odd, but sometimes I enjoy the “avoiders” in my life because I can spend time not focused on my illness as they don’t want to talk about it. These are not the people I surround myself with when I do need to talk though, so I find their personalities helpful during specific times only. Other times their personality can be tough to deal with as they don’t acknowledge the severity of what I need. Curious to hear your thoughts on the ‘avoiders’ in your life and whether they are primarily positive or negative, and whether they could possibly be both …
Take care and I look forward to hearing from you.
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