A chronic illness at any age can be stressful so what might it be like if that person is a teenager?
Teenagers have numerous hurdles ahead of them with a combination of puberty, social media, finding their own identity, friends, partners, parents, exams, and university which can each have a part in how young people feel. For those with a chronic illness life can become a bit more challenging especially when stress makes their condition even worse. I relate to this as I was a teenager with type 1 diabetes doing daily injections and numerous blood tests, when I remembered.
As a young person there is a focus in fitting in to meet some of the goals already listed above. This might mean some teens choose to hide their illness if it is going to upset their chance for a social, dating or school life. Most teens don’t leave the house without their phone, keys and wallet but these teens may also have to carry around medical supplies to sort out any emergencies from their illness or take daily medication while at school. This can seem different to what other teens are appearing to be doing. Constant trips to the nurse’s office can also result in people saying negative things.
Parents can be stressful for teens and although they maybe trying to be proactive, caring and worried about their child’s needs; it can turn into a battleground. Many parents might be challenging their teenagers about doing homework, coming in on time, cleaning room and eating properly however the battle for a parent for teens with extra needs can be about if they took their medication, slowing life down, if they got their emergency supplies etc etc. Eye rolling and door slamming may be a teenager’s reaction to parents who don’t stop bugging them about their health. A parent maybe saying ‘I’m just trying to keep you ok’ with their teen responding with ‘well its my life or my illness!’.
So, what might help? Education about the chronic illness for both parent and child about the delicate balance of letting a teen have some freedom to choose. Finding support groups for your teen so they can talk to other teens also struggling with the same illness. A peer who gets the medical language normal for these teens can do wonders for confidence. Unfortunately, some do suffer with either anxiety or depression (this could be the teen or parent) so some additional assistance such as online counselling can help and in some cases be a life saver. This means they are getting professional support from the comfort of their own room/home helping to manage their health and life in a more productive way.
Two areas to get support are websites dedicated to the teenager’s condition because what was learned at diagnoses may have changed over the years so more resources are possible. A directory for online counselling can be found at OLT which lists the various counsellors available with online training which can be a beneficial choice.