At age 5, I was diagnosed with a rare disease. I grew up thinking the way I lived was normal, despite the differences from my friends. Then last year, at 23 – in the middle of my social and school life – I was diagnosed with a second forever illness. Over the past 19 years of being chronically ill, I’ve learned a lot of tips to manage living with chronic illness. One of the questions I get asked the most is, “When should I tell my teacher/significant other /boss that I’m sick?”
I’m here to help.
Being chronically ill is definitely a part of us, but it is not our whole story. Being chronically ill is not our love, our work ethic, our drive, our personality, our humor, our laughs, or our passions.
The hardest part of explaining that you’re chronically ill is typically that some moments are great, and some moments that turn into days, weeks or years are impossible. It’s hard to explain this to someone new in your life. So when do you tell someone that important to you that you’re chronically ill?
My take with teachers and bosses: Within two weeks.
My take with friends: whenever you’re ready there is not right or wrong, however if you are close with a friend you should want to tell them for the both of you!
My take with dating: Within a month or two of seeing eachother
Hear me out: As we learn growing up with an illness(es), people can ignorant, most people don’t understand, and when they hear the word “illness”, they are confused. When someone gets to meet you for YOU; your personality, your worth ethic, your love, your passion, creativity, drive, devotion, they know you for YOU. They get to see the part of you that can get the job, be the hardworking student, be in the relationship, and satisfy their work needs for a boss.
By the time two weeks pass, you’re still in the ‘getting to know you’ phase, but they have an idea. When you open up and tell that person about your illness, they probably will be surprised – in a good way. These good ways could be that maybe something makes more sense now – if you had to cancel, or were not acting right one day. Another reason may be because they wouldn’t have ever known.
Here’s my rational behind the two week mark – if you wait longer than two weeks, a flare can happen and then it’s harder to explain to that person what’s going on. Everything is harder during a flare.
If you wait longer than two weeks, it may feel more uncomfortable to the other person that you didn’t confide or make them aware ahead of time.
Two weeks, in my opinion, is the perfect amount of time.
Have I had to tell teachers or bosses earlier than 2 weeks because a flare arrived? Yes.
Have I waited to tell teachers and others after 2 weeks? Yes. And I regretted it.
If we’re talking about friendships, I’d say: tell them whenever you’re comfortable. When it’s an important person who plays an active role in your life (bosses, teachers, relationships, family, etc.) you need to let them know for the both of you! (So they can support you and understand you better.) Rip the bandaid off and guaranteed you’ll feel the weight lifted off your shoulders and if you don’t they are not worth your time! You don’t deserve someone who doesn’t understand and they do not deserve such a hard working loving person!
After you rip the bandaid off treat yourself to something sweet, guilt free, and gut friendly… check out my easy recipes in the blog tab!
Sending you Superheroes love and strength!