Not-So Embarrassing Bodies: Understanding Our Reluctance to Talk About Health

Health & Well-being
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We live in an age where we’re better at sharing than ever before. Thanks to blogs and social media, we’re forever sharing our bad experiences and life stories. Yet, when it comes to our health, we’re still mostly silent.

Most of us are somewhat reluctant to talk about the struggles of our bodies, and this can lead to extreme isolation in the wake of a diagnosis. An astounding amount of us will even hide health complaints or conditions from those closest to us, let alone our online friends.

Sadly, this silence can have an adverse impact on recovery and understanding. Our doctors are now forever urging us to speak out about these struggles, either with counsellors or loved ones. And yet, many of us are still keeping quiet.

It’s a strange situation that needs to change. As with anything, though, change here isn’t possible until we consider the following reasons for our silence in the first place.

The false security of silence

Many of us stay silent about our health because doing so provides security. It’s astounding how many of us take the stance that it’s not real if we don’t talk about it. In reality, though, that security is a falsehood. As well as creating mental distress and isolation (more on that later), failure to talk about what’s happening can limit your understanding of a condition. As well as potentially impacting your recovery, this can make it harder than ever to get your head around something. As hard as talking might be, then, finding the words to explain what’s happening could well offer more security than silence ever would.

The ‘I’m all alone’ attitude

There’s also an isolating ‘no one else’ understands attitude behind our reluctance to talk. Why put ourselves out there when no one’s going to get it, after all? The reality is, though, that there are always other people experiencing the same or similar issues. Those suffering from MS are proving this in a significant way with wide-scale events like Ectrims 2019. Equally, TCOYD’s conferences are helping individuals with diabetes notice that they aren’t alone. All in all, though, we still have a long way to go before we can banish health-based isolation. And, ironic as it may seem, doing so is only possible once we start talking!

We’re all too squeamish

In some cases, it’s nothing but our good old squeamish natures that keep us silent. This is especially the case when it comes to issues with our bowels or other traditionally ‘embarrassing problems,’ though it’s somewhat prevalent with any health complaint. Too often, we still see it as crass to refer to our bodily functions and the issues that occur with them. Again, though, realising that we’re all the same and experience similar problems shows that there’s no need for this inherent embarrassment. In fact, when you finally do start talking about your health, you may realise that your squeamishness in the first place is the only thing you have to be embarrassed about.


Image Credits: Alexander Krivitskiy

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