Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Strange Idea

A few months ago I discovered that one of my fellow students was about to go into surgery for something that could be cancer. (Turns out it wasn't.) It was something she'd been discussing with doctors for some time, but she was pretty private about it until just before the surgery when she would finally get a definite answer.

I never questioned her decision to keep things private for so long, and was amazed to see her apologize on Facebook today for not telling everyone sooner. Apparently some people disapproved of her decision to keep things private for so long and made their displeasure known.

Let me be clear: how someone deals with a medical crises should be about the person having the crises, not those around them. If someone needs support or just wants to be open about things, then telling everyone is awesome. If they need to deal with it privately and only tell one or two close friends or just their family in confidence, then that's also fine. But ultimately, it's about what's best for the one going through the health scare, not what others around them want for themselves.

I guess this bothers me because it reminds me of something that happened to me when I was in my late teens. I'm pretty sure I'd told my friends that I was seeing a doctor to help me manage my ADHD, but I hadn't told them that I was trying a new medication. The first they heard of it was when I asked them "Hey, um, have I seemed depressed and withdrawn in the last month? I have? Uh, I guess it's my new medication...which I will be coming off of immediately. Thanks." By that point I couldn't even keep track of all the meds I'd been on over the years, so why bother mentioning one more medication? I mean, do I need to share every time the doctor gives me cough medicine?

My two closest friends didn't see it that way and were upset that I hadn't told them about the new medication. So not only did I have to deal with the stupid medication making me depressed, I also had to defend myself to my friends when I needed their support.

Think about that. If someone you know has just told you that they're having health problems they need your support, not your criticism. The best thing you can do is ask how you can help them. I hope this idea isn't nearly as strange as it seems to be to some.

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