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Lupus Coping Corner

Relationships and Lupus

Jessica Rowshandel, M.S.W.
Amy Caron
Project Director
Lupus Research Institute

Though Valentine’s Day has come and gone, lots of red and heart reminders still abound. The minute the calendar turned to February, we have been reminded that we need a significant other to eat chocolate with and do all the lovey-dovey things couples are expected to do during this month devoted to “love.” Well, that’s a lot of pressure.

Some folks feel particularly isolated around this holiday. What about the single people out there? And those who have had a hard time finding a partner who accepts their lupus and will love them no matter what? Or how about people in any type of relationship who feel frustrated because their loved ones don’t understand how lupus affects them?

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Valentine’s Day. But I want to give people who may have a tough time with the focus on romantic relationships some suggestions to make it through to March 1!

  1. Pamper yourself: I always say to my patients that there are things we should all do, whether or not we have a chronic illness, to pamper ourselves — to increase the amount of positivity and wellness, and to decrease stress. I also say, however, that for people with lupus or any chronic illness, it’s required that you take extra special care of yourself. That could mean taking a long, hot bath; lighting candles and listening to your favorite CD; relaxing in comfortable pajamas while watching an uplifting movie; meditating; or reading. Find whatever it is that makes you feel at peace and do it, especially, if you normally don’t.
  2. Re-connect: Are there people in your life who you have been meaning to call or write or visit, but just haven’t been able to get around to doing it? This holiday doesn’t only have to be about romantic relationships. It can be about meaningful ones, cultivating or rekindling relationships that are important to you. Take a little time out of your day to say hello to that person. Chances are you will make the other person’s day, in addition to your own.
  3. Lend a Hand: Maybe it’s best for you to focus your energy on others in order to distract, a bit, from your worries and troubles. Volunteering to help others could help keep your spirits lifted. I am sure there are places near your home that would love the help of a volunteer — a nursing home, a day care, a school, a soup kitchen, an animal shelter. You have a lot to offer, and I know there are people out there who will appreciate your efforts. Who you help doesn’t have to be a stranger, either. Giving is a great way to spread love, kindness and joy, whether it is for a stranger or a friend.
  4. Look Around: What gives beauty to the world around you — big or small? Taking the time to notice these things not only helps you slow down, but also helps increase your appreciation for your everyday world, which most of us take for granted. Allowing yourself to experience everyday wonders is very similar to keeping a gratitude list, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it had the same positive effects.
  5. Re-awaken Passions: As much as this month is traditionally about romance, it is also about passion. Passion is not limited to romantic relationships. It’s something that can make us come to life. Maybe it is a time to consider what dream you care enough about to pursue. One fun way of doing this is to create a dream board. You can do it by hand using old magazine cutouts and a piece of poster board, but you can also create one online and share it with others. Follow this link to one young girl’s suggestions for how a dream board can help you take the first step in following your dreams.

The most important tip I can give is: Love yourself, first. Oscar Wilde once said, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” I agree!

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Lupus Coping Corner

Disclaimer: The information provided by the S.L.E Lupus Foundation is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosing or treating a medical or mental illness, nor be a substitute for professional care. Consult your healthcare provider if you have or suspect you may have a medical or mental health problem.

Amy Caron, MPH is a lupus patient and Project Director of the Lupus Research Institute provider education initiative.  She is not a physician or counselor.  The suggestions shared in this column are strictly opinions from the perspective of a lay person with lupus. Lupus is a very individualized illness; consult a healthcare professional before making any decisions about your care.

The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation does not provide any direct medical or psychological services nor recommend or endorse any particular treatment or therapy. The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation employees, consultants, and agents shall not be liable for any claims or damages, and expressly disclaim all liability of any nature for any action or non-action taken as a result of the information generated by the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation programs and its website, as well as the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Facebook and Twitter pages.