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Relationships with Asthma

Asthma can be a sensitive topic in the relationships we form with others. Friends making a joke, perhaps going too far. Telling a new significant other you have asthma; discussing your asthmatic needs with that significant other. Working out guidelines with new roommates or consulting coworkers. Asthma can be a reoccurring variable in our relationships with others. Here’s what I think about how asthma should play a role in the connections you make.

Asthma and relationships

To understand why asthma plays such a major role in the relationships we build, it’s important to first look at our own relationships with our asthma. If asthma were a person in our lives, rather than a part of us, it wouldn’t be hyperbolic call it an authoritarian or even totalitarian. In so many ways it tells us how to live and will sometimes subdue you if you get out of line.

My asthma has told me how to live most of my life: What friend’s house I can’t go to. What weather I can’t play sports in. What animals I can't pet. What seasons I can breathe in and be outside during. What foods I can eat. No matter the topic, it has had an opinion to voice and has been the most constant influence. To think a relationship this intimate wouldn’t influence the relationships you form with others is a logical catastrophe.

Relationships with others

Asthma isn't our only relationship though, we form new relationships all the time. As a new relationship blossoms, we sometimes try and hide our asthma, however that connection is stronger than this new found one. I know that I have been scared to reveal my asthma to a new significant other, out of irrational fears but fears none the less. I have had relationships that have been difficult on my asthma and relationships that have helped me understand and control my asthma better than ever before. Here are some examples of the positive and negative influences on my asthma.

Positive relationship influence:

  • My current partner reminds me to bring my inhaler wherever we or I go.
  • She buys unscented soaps and detergents.
  • She is conscious of factors that exacerbates my asthma and does her best to accommodate or keep triggers away.
  • She does not wear scents and is mindful about her impact on my asthma.

Negative relationship influences:

  • A past roommate would burn incense in the apartment.
  • The same roommate would also smoke on the balcony, bringing the smell and trigger infrequently.
  • A past girlfriend would spray perfumes and body sprays in my car and room.
  • A past coworker would wear extremely strong and heavy body sprays.

Assessing our relationships

Something to note: my current partner is still in my life and spoken about in the present tense. This is because she is an incredible support for me and my asthma. Sometimes it’s necessary to look at our relationships and critically asses how they support us and our asthma. Dynamics with others can change, for the better with proper and constructive communication, however, it is much more difficult to change our relationship with asthma. Our asthma has been with many of us for a long time and our health should always be a priority.

It wasn't until I had better support from friends and a significant other that I realized how my past relationships were triggering to my asthma. I propose it could benefit all sides of a relationship: us, another person and our asthma, to communicate our needs and how to support one another.

Find a community that supports you and your asthma

Having support from other people is a variable when managing a chronic illness but it can be difficult to find a community of support with a chronic illness. Our illnesses can be alienating. One incredible outcome of this community we have on Asthma.net, in my opinion, is that we build relationships based on our common strife with asthma. This community allows me and so many others to connect with people primarily because of something that can alienate us. That is a first for me and if it is for you too, you might also feel how special that truly is.

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