Receiving a diagnosis of kidney disease or beginning treatment are times of great activity. Family and friends rally around and offer their help, support, encouragement, and empathy. But once the “newness” of the situation settles, visits, phone calls, meals, or other forms of support often stop. People begin to focus their energy on other things, which may leave you feeling very alone or isolated.
You may feel that your loved ones don’t really care about you. In reality, family and friends may just be exhausted from the energy they put in to help you adjust to your diagnosis. Their need to pull back may not be a lack of concern for you - but simply a need to get back to their own routines.
Asking For Help
Feeling alone can be very hard. Sometimes the way out of this dark place is easier than you might think. Learn to ask for help. One of the biggest barriers to asking for help is often our strong feeling that it is wrong or weak to need help. Our culture tells us to be independent and self-sufficient. You may not want to “be a burden” to your loved ones.
But we all need other people, chronic illness or not. Because you do have a chronic illness, you may need more help than the average person. But you can’t expect even those closest to you to read your mind about the kind of help you need.
Whether it’s a chore like mowing the lawn or a simple chat over tea, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask. Most people are willing to help, but be mindful of the person you’re asking. If you’re too demanding or insensitive to the needs of your loved ones, you may push them away even if they want to help you.
If you’re in doubt, ask them if they feel taken for granted or imposed upon. If they say “yes,” talk about how you can make your needs known in a way that is better for them.
Meeting Others With Chronic Kidney Disease
You may need to find new sources of help and support, besides your loved ones. Some people with kidney disease feel alone because they feel different from everyone else, or even embarrassed because they are sick.
Nobody really knows what it feels like to have a kidney problem except someone with a kidney problem. So, it may help you to talk with other patients. Support groups for people with kidney disease may be available in your area. Here are some resources:
- The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) www.kidney.org
- The American Association of Kidney Patients www.aakp.org
- The Renal Support Network www.rsnhope.org
If there is no group in your area, you can still get support from other people who have kidney problems. Many online support groups are available, and members “talk” to each other through email.
A counselor, therapist, social worker, or clergy may also be able to help you. By asking those most able to help, you have the best chance of getting what you need and feeling connected in relationships.