Hong Kong people have got used to living a hectic life with irregular mealtime in an overwhelming fast-food culture, ie. eating more meat than vegetables. Alongside the lack of exercise, the number of young people developing chronic diseases such as diabetes and three-highs is growing at an alarming pace. These patients do not merely suffer physically, the diseases take a toll on their mental health as well. Take the diabetics as example, they have to exercise, manage eating habits and go for regular check-ups besides consuming tablets to lower the risk of developing serious complications. If they become over-strained due to all these self-care responsibilities, their condition would only get worse, not better.
Emotions are chained to the state of the illness
In many cases, emotions are responsible for the poor management of chronic diseases. Some patients may give up on their diet plan due to physical pain or feeling of helplessness, while others may overlook their own needs under negative emotions or environmental circumstances such as loss of job or quarrels with family. Understanding that emotions play a vital role in the state of an illness, patients should always keep themselves in a good mood besides paying attention to their physical condition.
Where does the mental pressure come from?
No one wants to get sick in the first place and would get worried, especially about chronic diseases which take time to get radically cured. Take the diabetics as an example again, their mental pressure may come from dietary restrictions which they think would deprive them of their pleasure in life. Other causes include the side effects of medication and the risk of developing complications. But the truth is, the more they understand the disease, the less mental pressure they would have. So it’s important to seek professional advice if one is troubled mentally.
More communication, less conflict
It’s not surprising that conflicts often occur between patients and their caretakers, simply because the caretakers understand and treat the diseases differently. The wife who takes strict measures on daily routine for her suffering husband may feel offended when the latter responds coldly. Likewise, a husband on diet may complain about her wife who loves to prepare richly-seasoned food. These differences would not only exert adverse effect on their emotions but also the condition of the patient. When these differences are magnified and turn into pressure, any caring acts or messages would only be taken wrongly and result in intensified negative emotions. After all, chronic diseases are long-drawn-out wars where both the patients and caretakers should listen to and communicate with each other more in order to fight together and win.
A man was raised in a local culinary culture featuring strong flavours and seasonings. After he had developed diabetes and had to follow dietary restrictions, he started to complain to her wife about the ‘healthy’ food she prepared was tasteless to him. To avoid further conflicts that could harm their relationship and her husband’s condition, the wife began to delve into cooking and use different herbs to spice up the flavours. The result was, she satisfied her husband’s taste buds and smoothed out the conflict between them.
Specialist in family medicine