Who can you talk to?
Some people are lucky. They have a close circle of friends and family who can give them a lot of support. Other people don't have many people to support them.
However, even with a supportive family and a wide circle of friends it can at times be difficult to talk about a serious illness. There can be a deep feeling of inner isolation and a sense that only people who have experienced the same illness as you, can understand your thoughts and feelings.
So, if you want to talk, who is the best person to talk to?
The most likely person is whoever you usually talk to about important issues. They know you best and can hopefully give you the support that you need.
If it is difficult to find such a person, maybe there is someone else you might feel comfortable talking to about difficult problems? It might be anyone – your partner, your closest friend, your mother, sister, brother or a religious leader. It may even be somebody you quite like but haven’t, until now, been friends with. Often, people who are seriously ill find it difficult to talk to close family or friends, and find it easier to speak to someone they don't know so well.
Organisations and counselling
If you can't find anyone to talk to, ask your doctor or nurse or someone else on your medical team to tell you about any counselling services available.
Most areas of Scotland also have support groups for a wide range of illnesses. Support groups usually consist of people with a particular illness and are sometimes led by a healthcare professional. Other members of the group may be in a similar position to you, or they may not. It is quite usual for a group to include people who are at different stages of an illness. You may find this wider experience helps you to see your own problems from a different perspective.
Some people find groups very helpful, and they form bonds with other members that are deeper and more significant than almost anything in their past. However, other people get embarrassed or uncomfortable when talking about personal issues with strangers. If groups aren't your style, don’t worry.
For more information about support groups in your area, visit the NHS Inform Support Services Directory.
Internet support groups
If there is no group near to you, or you have problems getting to one, you can join internet support groups or chat rooms. There are a number of internet groups for various illnesses. These are easy to join and enable you to share your experience with other people. If you want, you can stay anonymous and just read the emails of other people on the list.
This can be very supportive, as you can find out that other people have similar thoughts, emotions and experiences. It can make you feel less alone and can help you learn how to cope with the treatment and live with your illness. Internet groups are easy to join and also easy to leave, without any need for personal contact or explanations.
Someone involved in your care may be able to get you advice on the most relevant and reliable internet support groups or contact a voluntary organisation specific to your illness, for further advice.
If you don't want to talk
Some people find that they don’t want to talk about their thoughts or feelings or about their illness and its treatment. They would rather just get on with life, and find that doing normal everyday things and not discussing being ill is the best way for them to cope with it
If this is how you feel, then don’t feel that you have to talk about your illness. If other people want to talk and you are a person who does not wish to discuss thoughts or feelings, then you don’t have to. It is fine to say that actually you find that the best way for you to deal with your situation is to just get on with life and if you want to discuss it you will bring up the issue.