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Video: Feat Every Day - Society
Any illness is a crisis, including a psychological one. But there are diseases that “cost” our psyche and the psyche of our loved ones especially hard: they carry a significant threat to life, last for years and require complex and constant treatment (cancer, HIV, hepatitis, and others). The life of the patient and the immediate environment is changing dramatically, and it is impossible to be fully prepared for this test. However, it can be passed as worthily as possible if you know how to act and seek help in time. The behavior of loved ones and friends is just as important to recovery as treatment.
A collision with a fatally diagnosed person usually causes three types of reactions in others:
1. Reaction of withdrawal
In this case, relatives avoid communicating with the patient, and if this is impossible, they simply pretend that nothing happened. The topic of illness is not discussed. As a result, the patient's feeling of loneliness, his own "badness" intensifies, the resources necessary to fight the disease are lost. Over time, loved ones inevitably accumulate a sense of guilt, even if they themselves justify their behavior as logically as possible.
2. Reaction of salvation
This is the opposite strategy, very common in our culture. The founder of transactional analysis Eric Berne and his colleague Claude Steiner spoke about the role of “savior” that people take on unconsciously. It would seem that by “saving” someone, we are helping, but in reality we are only pushing the person to continue to show weakness and powerlessness (while being annoyed at manipulation by the “savior” who longs for obedience and gratitude instead of recovery and loses his temper if does not receive them).
It is easy for the relatives of a sick person to fall into this trap, because at some period of the illness a person really goes through a stage of helplessness, and here it is very important to determine what kind of help he really needs and what not. And at what point they already stop helping, and begin to "save".
3. Help response
This is the favorable option that enables the patient to receive support, and the family and loved ones - to survive the crisis as safely as possible. What do I need to do?
Three main tasks for family members
1. Maintain (or create, if this was not the case before) an atmosphere of intimacy and sincerity
Get ready for different emotional reactions of the patient: anger, fear, confusion.
On the one hand, you should not be afraid of them, on the other, you should not think that you are obliged to somehow influence the mood of the sick person (this process will go on in any case).
These are somatopsychic effects that the patient is not able to control (and there is no talk about any kind of "pulling yourself together"). Thus, HIV affects the cells of the central nervous system and causes sleep disturbances, decreased performance, low mood, and apathy. Nervousness, anxiety, and fatigue are common in patients with chronic kidney disease. Chemotherapy for cancer often produces effects on its own, such as increased fatigue, irritability, memory loss, and impaired attention. Help Elisabeth Kubler-Ross through the five stages of encountering a life-threatening illness.
- During the denial stage, do not make everything fully aware unless confusion interferes with the treatment.
- During the protest / anger stage, provide an opportunity to speak out and do not take anger personally (do not get into conflict).
- During the bargaining phase, provide as much positive information as possible to build hope for the success of the treatment.
- During the depression stage, do not give in to feelings of guilt and the desire to minimize communication with the patient.
- And then the stage of acceptance - as a welcome relief - will come for everyone earlier.
Be ready to listen, it will be very useful to master the so-called active listening, in which you do not carry on a dialogue as such, but give your partner signals that he understands that you are there (showing this with facial expressions, nods, short words "yes, of course").
Refrain from blaming. Of course, each of us is responsible for our health, and sometimes we create additional risks by our behavior. But at the stage of illness (and treatment), guilt is not an assistant. On the contrary, it pushes the person to give up and give up.
For extreme illness, emergency remedies
Discuss the objective problems associated with the disease. Make a list of tasks that the family will have to solve: costs of treatment, changes in family income (if one family member stops working for a while), changes in household responsibilities, plans for the future, etc. It is better to write down possible solutions and think over who can help.
The disease does not cancel quarrels, they will occur, and there is no need to be afraid of it. In families of seriously ill people, quarrels usually occur either because of unresolved issues, or against the background of fatigue.
Save the "rescuer"
Claude Steiner offers three criteria to help determine when you are already moving from real assistance to "saving":
- 1. You do something for a person that you do not want to do, and at the same time you do not tell him what you are doing against your will.
- 2. You start doing something with the other person and find that he has shifted most of the work to you.
- 3. You do not let people know what you would like, thereby depriving others of the opportunity to respond to your desires.
2. Take the right part in the treatment process
Help the patient to form an adequate understanding of the disease and treatment. In a state of fear, panic or anxiety, it is difficult for a person to perceive information.
You can become an intermediary who takes information from reliable sources and brings it to the patient. An incorrect understanding of the disease can intensify the patient's fears or feelings of guilt (for example, from a misunderstanding of the mechanisms of the onset of a tumor, an installation of total guilt can arise - he did not eat that way, lived the wrong way, etc.). Doubts about treatment can lead to the fact that medications are taken incorrectly, "forgotten", etc.
If possible, support the patient's initiatives - the desire to do something around the house, communicate with friends, any activity.
If your hands are itching to come to the rescue where they can do without you, perhaps you should literally sit in your arms and endure.
Focus on reasons for optimism
Notice even the smallest positive changes in your appearance ("your complexion has improved", "you look more cheerful", etc.). Focus on the effects of the treatment (good test results are a reason to celebrate). Reasons for optimism are needed, since a good mood has a positive effect on immunity.
Immunity increases from any positive emotions, so organize watching comedies at home, play board games, and remember funny stories from family life.
3. Maintain your psychological well-being
Try to accept all your feelings, even those that you yourself consider unacceptable (anger at the patient, resentment, anger, irritation, hostility). They will arise, as well as frightening thoughts ("It would be better if it ended …"). Remember that your psyche is also adapting to the crisis.
Consider your needs. Illness can make a big difference in the life of a family, but that doesn't mean you have to give up joy, pleasure, and your goals.
Constantly ask yourself: "What have I done for myself today?"
This will help avoid additional annoyance. Be sure to find a way to relax. Remember, being out will make you useless and even harmful to the person you want to help. Get professional help.
If there is a feeling that you are not coping, do not try to accomplish a feat, seek help.
There are many psychological tools that make life easier in this situation. Share the load: involve friends and other family members.
Recommendations for friends
Friends can also play a significant role in the fight against illness.
On the one hand, the load is slightly less: there is no need to be around, there are no general financial and other losses. On the other hand, if the family takes a detached position, it is friends who remain the last straw that a person can grab onto.
Whenever possible, support common interests or modify them to suit the situation. For example, if you are used to actively relaxing together, and your friend cannot now, replace skiing with board games. Be prepared to listen to and discuss things that are not being discussed with the family.
Do not expect "enlightened" reactions from yourself: resentment, anger, and even disgust, and a desire to escape from communication are possible. The closer your relationship is, the more you will react. Allow yourself to experience it. Offer to help the family. Sometimes it is difficult for relatives to ask for help, and they need a little “prompt”, to make it clear that you are ready.
Recommendations for colleagues
It is common in our culture to hide our health problems at work. Especially when it comes to such "non-prestigious" diseases like cancer or HIV. If employees find out, there is often either a stupor or a desire to withdraw.
In the first case, there is a universal solution - to ask a person if he needs your help, and to clarify which one.
In the second, ask yourself what exactly is bothering you. Perhaps you just do not know much about this disease and additional information will help clarify the situation.