Dealing with friends, family and coworkers
Changes in your roles and relationships can cause stress and depression. How others have responded to your illness and recovery may cause you to re-evaluate your relationships. You may feel grief or anger over someone who was not there for you. You might feel guilty about accepting support, or resentful of someone who has taken on your old responsibilities.
It is important to deal with these issues and find ways to make the "new normal" work.
Addressing family issues
If your family thought things would "get back to normal," you may have trouble getting used to "the new normal." Some family members might be unhappy about the changes.
Remind people around you that you want to contribute. Come up with creative ways to do things. Remember that having something to do, and getting it done, is more important than the speed and efficiency with which it gets done. You may have to relax your standards and give up some control. No two people cook the same, clean the same, or even fold laundry the same. It is not unusual for differences over these simple activities to cause frustration.
Talk about your feelings with a trusted friend or counselor. Sometimes it helps to write a letter, even if you never mail it. Be careful about sharing your feelings. The goal is to help yourself feel better, not to blame or shame others.
Some families choose to work through problems on their own, others get professional help. You might consider asking your doctor or social worker to refer you to a counselor who specializes in working with families who have been affected by illness.
Tips for avoiding conflict
Try to keep things in perspective, pick your battles, and practice letting go. Keeping your sense of humor and getting support from someone who understands your situation can really help.
- When something rubs you the wrong way, think about the person's intent. Can you just let it go?
- Learn to pick your battles. Is being right more important than being happy?
- Ask for clarification to avoid misunderstandings.
- Tell people how you feel.
- Discuss how things could be done differently.
- Build yourself up by spending time with people who like and respect you.
- Reduce your stress by taking good care of yourself.
You may find that your experience has changed your outlook on life. Your values and priorities might have changed and that can affect your relationships. It will probably take a while to sort things out.