Coping With Illnesses

Amanda Bromley

Professor Sarah Elsworth

English 1050

November 17, 2013


            Out in the world there are many illnesses that people do not know how to cope with. Coping with illnesses is a hard thing for most people, but there are organizations and many other things that help those people. There are multiple illnesses that are hard to cope with such as: mental illness, cancer, strokes, and sexually transmitted infections, where the victims need social support and some sort of emotional reinforcement to help them through their hard times.

Most do not understand why these horrible illnesses happen to people. Some ask why God would let someone suffer like that, but you cannot blame illnesses on God, but you can only blame nature. Illnesses can happen to anyone and they will affect the ill person and their loved ones. So there have to be organizations and other coping ideas that help both the patient and their loved ones. Everyone need someone to confide with, to talk about their hopes and fears about their illness.

Some people cope by enhancing their appearance. There is an organization on the Western Michigan University campus that actually helps people feel better about themselves. This organization is called “The Butterfly Effect”. The Butterfly Effect is a non-profit organization that is there to help increase female self-esteem after dealing with cancer, cancer treatments, or any other diseases that alter their appearances (Clark). Having organizations like this out in the world are a great help. Shaynae’ Clark says “I look at my organization as both a social support and emotional reinforcement because it gathers people with the same illnesses and gives them support knowing there are other people like them to talk to. It also gives them an emotional reinforcement by giving them a positive outlook on their appearance, and makes them less embarrassed”.  If there were not people like Clark out in society there would be a lot of people who would be having trouble coping with their illness. Yes Clark’s organization is based on helping people with cancer and appearance altering illnesses, but it is only one out of many other organizations that help people cope. Clark also thinks social support groups and emotional reinforcement is good because they help people find and interact with other people that are going through the same situation and makes them feel a lot better talking to people in a positive environment about their illness. Being asked the question “How do you think organization, like yours, help cope with illnesses?”, Shaynae’ says that organizations like hers helps targets the illness, helps with the issues the people are having, and provides handy resources to help with the illness.

            There is a wide range of mental illnesses, starting with simple ones like anxiety, going all the way to schizophrenia. With all of these illnesses, there are many different ways to cope with them and no two are the same. Some people with mental illnesses may just need therapy, others will need medication or even need to be hospitalized to get the help they need. Most of all people need the social support from friends and family to help.

            Schizophrenia is a mental disorder where it is hard to tell the difference between real and fake. Living with that kind of disorder can be hard for the person themself and for their family members. It is hard for someone to live with schizophrenia because you cannot tell what part of your life is true and what is not true. The best way for them to cope with have that illness is by love and support from your family. Being their backbone can help them find the right treatment and push them in the right direction for recovery.

            Mental illness that are not as serious, like anxiety, also need social support and reinforcement. While living with someone with anxiety, you learn that not just the medication with help. With any kind of anxiety, people need the emotional reinforcement that everything is okay. Most people with anxiety need to have one person who can tell that they are uncomfortable and can take them aside and have them relax and breathe.

Depression is another big mental illness – especially in adolescents and young adults. One of the main things that helps them through the depression is support from their family and classmates (Treybick 1). When out with friends, people with depression tend to forget about why they were depressed. Also having someone to talk to is a big help, because they might have good advice or will have some way to make the depressed person feel better.

Cancer could be one of the hardest sicknesses for someone to handle. It is difficult because they have the possibility of surviving or not making it. With those possibilities it is difficult to cope because they will never know exactly when they might pass away. Also, if it is a kind of cancer that can somehow be healed, like breast cancer, you will have to live with the scars and that also will be hard to cope with.

            One way people deal with cancer is through social support.  Families dealing with a member that has cancer can be stressful. Having people around them for social support can help reduce stress. Good social support can improve the care a person can give their family. “According to psycho-oncologist, breast cancer survivor and author of The House on Crash Corner, Mindy Greenstein, Ph.D., the social support system is the "number one factor in how well we cope with cancer."” When you offer help to someone you have to be specific because the person might be hesitant to take your offer, because they might be ashamed by their illnesses or they done like getting help.  When the person accepts your support, do not lecture them on the way they cope, they will cope the way they want (Chessman).

            Stroke victims have a hard time handling the fact that they have had a stroke. Most are in disbelief that a stroke has happened to them. Mildred Gray thinks that having a social support group, like the National Stroke Association, is important because it helps people realize that they are not the only people out in the world that have had a stroke. Also having a social support group is good because it gives people the chance to share their stories with other people who have similar situation. The support group has each other to reinforce that everything will be fine because they have gone through it also.

            Stroke victims need the support from their friends and family or “Over a third of stroke survivors (37%) said they felt abandoned after leaving hospital and nearly half (46%) had received no information or practical advice to help them cope with the emotional impact” (The Southern Reporter). Some survivors tend to get depression and anxiety after experiencing a stroke, so the same social support and reinforcement that are need for mental illnesses are needed to help stroke victims.

Sexually transmitted infections, like HIV, are very common virus in America. More than one million people have HIV with in the United States, so it is likely that you know someone with the virus. Most people find it embarrassing to tell someone about having HIV because the most common way of getting it is through unprotected sex or the use of drugs. So when someone confides in a person about having HIV, they need respect and for the person they are confiding in to keep their trust. When someone with HIV trusts a friend with that information that means they need their friend and their support to cope with it. The friend of the person with HIV should not be afraid to ask questions because it may help them feel less self-conscious about it. If the person with the HIV has not told anyone else, that means that the friend’s support and emotional reinforcement is very important to the victim.

            With all of these different illness there are many different ways to cope, but each has one coping idea in common social support and emotional reinforcement. Mental illness, cancer, strokes and sexually transmitted infections all need social support and emotional reinforcement. Without this coping mechanism most people would have trouble dealing with the illness.












Work Cited

"Community Help: When a Family has a Child with Cancer."Cure Search for Children's Cancer. (2013): n. page. Print.

"Stroke Help Needed." The Southern ReporterMay 09 2013. ProQuest. Web. 18 Nov. 2013 .

Chessman, Kristin. "STRENGTH IN NUMBERS." She Knows Cares /Cancer Awareness. (2011): n. page. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.

New, Michelle. "My Friend Has HIV. How Can I Help?."TeensHealth. (2013): n. page. Print. 

Olson, Greg. "Event Helps Stoke Stroke Support Group." McClatchy - Tribune Business NewsAug 24 2009. ProQuest.Web. 18 Nov. 2013 .

 Smith, Melinda, and Jeanne Segal. "Helping a Person with Schizophrenia." (2013): n. page. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.

Treybick, Marina. "The Association of Social Support with Depression in Early Adolescence." Order No. 3529197 St. John's University (New York), 2010. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.

Webb, Sarah. "Coping WITH Cancer." Current Health 2 11 2007: 26-9. ProQuest. Web. 18 Nov. 2013 .