Reviewed by Kristen E. Holm, PhD, MPH

Having a chronic illness can be isolating. One way to think about being diagnosed with a chronic illness is to think of it like being sent to live in a foreign country—against your will, suddenly, and by yourself. You have to learn a new medical “language and culture” specific to your illness. Your family and friends also have to learn about your illness in order to “visit” you in this foreign country and you will get lonely if don’t invite at least a few important people to join you on the journey.

Social support is helpful to all people, healthy or ill. In times of sickness, the need for support is even greater. Support can come from relatives, friends, other patients, medical and nursing staff, counselors, priests, ministers, and rabbis. The source of support is not as important as the feeling that adequate support is available.

Being ill often involves changes in relationships. You may have to depend on others a great deal more. It can be extremely difficult to accept help. Remember that relationships are a two-way street: you have supported and helped your friends and family members in the past, and now may be the time for you to allow them to support and help you. Accepting help is an important part of taking care of yourself.

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