Disclosing Your Health Condition
Whether to tell people about your condition, when to tell them, and what to tell, depends on the situation and why you are thinking of disclosing the information. The decision is a purely personal one. There is no right and wrong.
In general, there are three situations which give rise to this question. What you decide to do may vary in each situation. The three situations are:
- Family, Friends and Acquaintances
In each situation, consider:
- The pros and cons of telling.
- Preparing what to say before you tell.
- Prepare for disappointing reactions.
There are two givens:
- Keeping a secret is stressful. The greater the secret, the greater the stress.
- There is no going back once you tell. As they say: "The cat's out of the bag."
All the literature suggests telling children who live with you. They'll know something is wrong and assume it's their fault.
We strongly encourage telling unless there is an overriding reason not to. Stress hurts the immune system. The immune system is needed to help your body function at its best disease fighting capacity.
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- Prepare for disappointing reactions. Some ways other people have found helpful to deal with disappointing reactions to their news of a diagnosis are:
- Be patient. Give people time to live with the news.
- Find support for yourself. Also consider looking for support for the other person.
- Try to think about the news from their point of view.
- Be reasonable in your expectations.
- Talk about your feelings about their reaction.
- It is worthwhile to pay attention to your friends behavior and words. Some may want to hear about your treatments and symptoms but not your emotions, or vice versa. You may need different people for different conversations.