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Men & Chronic Illness

My friends at Wellness Works NW asked me to write an article about men and their chronic conditions. I was taken aback by this assignment; Men have chronic conditions? You wouldn’t know it by the articles that are written, blogs, magazines, even data is women geared. That got me to thinking, I love researching. I went on a quest to find out how men do self-care, deal with their emotions, fight for themselves.

While researching I discovered there is not much on the web as in blogs, discussions, or even articles about men and their battle with chronic illness. I found one article of one of my favorite bands For King and Country whose band mate had an illness that left them reeling. I finally had proof that men get illnesses and it does affect them. Since I couldn’t interview Luke Smallbone from the band For King and Country because I wanted to dig inside the man’s brain while they are walking their own journey. I had some questions. Did they feel as worthless as I have? Do they go through the emotional changes I have gone through? I had to write a question and ask for input from others on my Facebook page. I asked for some men to be my guinea pigs. Thankfully I got three great responses. I wrote out my questions and sent them out. I also found a great website U.S. Pain Foundation that was started by a man who had severe pain and wanted to help others and himself. Yes, one website that talked about men and pain and illness.  Since I only had one source and I’m the type of person who needs more than two sources. I was excited to get the answers back from the men who graciously accepted my invitation. They know who they are and thank you for your honest answers. They helped me open up my heart to compassion and understanding towards your plight.

When I read their answers, I was deeply humbled and my heart filled with deep compassion for them. As they shared their stories of not feeling like they could share because of fear of being seen as weak. The one that got me the most was them feeling like they were not valuable enough especially in society’s eyes since they couldn’t be this big strong man who can lift up the world. It made me sad because I know all three of these men. I know how incredible they are as husbands, fathers, brothers, friends, and sons. It made my heart hurt to think they felt bad about themselves. At this moment, I know that illness strikes everyone, no matter what gender you are. We all need to feel valuable, needed, respected, and to have hope. I have changed my view point. I hope that more articles will be written to include men in the struggle of illness.

This is what I want to say to men who are fighting chronic illness:

  1. You are not a crybaby, weak, or whiny if you share your struggles with your community. Please share so that people know how to help you and know what you are going through. So that compassion and love can grow between you. So that you can feel heard and even get some support from people who might not know that you need it.
  2. The opinions of society doesn’t matter. You and your family are part of society. It is okay that you participate when you are able to. It is okay to cry. It is okay to show your weakness. It is okay to bare your soul to a few choice people in your life. If the public doesn’t understand, that does not matter. Jesus does.
  3. You are valuable. No matter what condition you are in physically. You are still of value. Even if you are not able to do what you could before. You still have worth. You are still capable and able to do things. It is just in a different way. I know and believe you will find the way you can still help and do what you need to do so that you can continue to be of service to others.
  4. Keep fighting. I hope you will continue to fight and consider sharing your fight for others like you. Men need to hear that they are not alone just like women do. Connection is key in keeping strong, especially in times of weakness. Connections can help us put our armor on and weld our swords when we are not able to. Don’t stop connecting with others.
  5. No matter what condition you are in you can be of service to your community. It might not be like it was once before, but you can do it. I suggest finding some small thing you can do for someone else. This has helped me find peace with my abilities.
  6. Wellness matters, finding the right balance of eating well, moving your body, and time with Jesus (if you are a believer) matters. Sleep does too.

This is what I want to say to the men in my life:

I hope you will forgive me for judging you, for my unloving heart towards you and for anything i have done that may have caused you pain. I’m happy to say that Jesus has brought me to a place where I can be loving and compassionate towards men. I still struggle and if I do hurt you please let me know.

I am still interested in finding blogs, websites, or anything that will help me aide men who are fighting chronic conditions. If you would like to share them with me, please leave a comment and give the website so that I can check them out.

Wellness Works NW wants to walk with you on your path toward wellness.  To set up a free consultation with Karen click here.

Here are the links for where I got the information for my article.

JamieHollowayJamie Holloway lives in the Portland, Oregon area. Since October 2011 she has been sharing her Journey Toward Health and Wellness with Vasculitis through her blog at JamieChasesButterflies.com. As most of her articles will be about Men’s Health, Jamie intends to write her articles as though she was sharing important information with her brother, nephews and friends. We hope you are as inspired as we are with the raw candor Jamie uses in her writing.

For more information Contact Jamie.

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