It is very common in relationships to become codependent, that is to depend on others to be happy or even to give life meaning. When we are sick this develops exponentially, for we do come to depend on others even for our basic needs. It is worse with lupus, for it’s not a passing illness, but a lifelong condition. It is therefore very important that we learn not to lean on others excessively, or to have a wide support group in case of a crisis, because taking care of a sick person can become tedious and a burden for the person doing it. Even if we begin with all the goodwill of the person offering to help us in everything, we can end up exhausting him/her to the point that he/she may run away from the relationsip or become angry and do things with a bad attitude. When this happens, the sick person tends to feel guilty of feeling ill and being a burden for the other person who so kindly offered to help her, and the relationship can turn toxic, contributing more to negative feelings than to the welfare of either one. As lupus patients, we have to be careful not to exhaust the reserves of our support group, we do not want our loved ones to see us as a burden instead of helping us nicely. Some things you can do to avoid becoming a burden to thers are:
- Avoid complaining all the time. Try to be good company and have a sense of humor. It is much easier to be with someone who laughs than with somene who is grouchy all the time. This also applies to professional caretakers like doctors and nurses.
- Have a wide support group. Have different people help with different tasks to make the burden less heavy for all of them. For example, at home, you can divide the chores between the kids and spouse and rotate them daily so that no one gets too bored. The chores that have to be done outside the house you can distribute between friends and neighbors. For example, you can ask a neighbor whose kids go to the same school as yours to take and pick up your kids with hers. You can ask a friend who is going grocery shopping to bring you some things on the way home.
- Delegate as much as possible. Have telephone numbers for supermarkets who have home deliveries, also restaurants that can bring you dinner if you can’t cook, have your kids in the school bus, etc. Everything you can delegate to professionals is better than to be asking for favors constantly.
- Learn to enjoy your own company or have activities you can do alone even if you don’t feel well, if you ask to be surrounded by people constantly they can get tired and bored of you.
- With your friends. If you cannot go to events and activities they have, you come up with less strenuous things you can do and invite them, like going to the movies. That way you will not feel alone, they will feeel like they are helping and supporting you and everybody is happy.
- Be grateful with everyone. Remember your support group is your life line in a crisis, so be grateful and reciprocrate favours when you are well, this way people close to you will have the good will to help you in the future. Do what you can for them, even if it’s just making a thank you card or giving them a small gift that says you are grateful to them.