There is no right or wrong way to talk about CF with your friends, however we have heard a few words of wisdom from adults who have been there. The first thing is to learn self-acceptance; accepting and loving all the things that make you special and unique.
Here are a few tips:
Learn to embrace your uniqueness, including CF
CF may be something that your friends don’t have. Having CF may create some challenges, but it will also give you skills you learn and benefit from e.g. knowledge of medical information, an ability to talk to adults, time off school, time alone with a parent.
Let go of the things you can’t change
Having CF is different for everyone. Some people get sicker than others or are affected in different ways. Some people have blue or brown eyes and some people are tall or short. We are all different. It’s important not to focus on the things we can’t change and learn to love these parts of ourselves.
What are your strengths?
What are the things that you love to do or are good at? e.g. are you a good hugger, good at art, music or maths? Build on these strengths.
CF is just a part of you, not everything
The other parts of you are what draws you to your friends e.g. you and your friends might be interested in BMX bikes, dancing or have a particular sense of humour.
Build trust with friends
All friendships and relationships are built on trust, sharing and respect. When you feel you have trust, then it’s easier to talk about how something like CF affects you.
Set goals and celebrate your successes
If you want to learn something new or improve on something, like dance or doing physio, set a few small goals and celebrate when you achieve them.
If you know you’ve got a CF appointment, sleep over, school camp or something else that might require you to talk about your CF, plan and practice how to talk about it. CFWA has an educator who can help you talk this through, or you can look at our website cfsmart.org.au for tips on school camps and other helpful resources.
Think positively and be kind to yourself
Try to be kind to yourself. It’s not always easy to have positive thoughts and feelings and thoughts change. Our feelings about having CF may also change, particularly when we are most affected. e.g. if we spend some time in hospital and miss school. You are not alone; everyone has different stuff happening. Try not to compare yourself to others.
If you struggle to stay positive, find someone you trust to talk to. It might be a parent, teacher, nurse, or another adult you trust.
At CFWA, we also have social workers who you can talk to and can help you work through any issues you’re experiencing. Call CFWA on 6457 7333 and ask to speak to a social worker.
If you wanted to speak to someone confidentially, you can contact the Kids Help Line at kidshelpline.com.au or 1800 551 800.
Article from Rozee Magazine, 2019.