08 May 2008

A trouble shared

Heartbreak, kindness, despair and support. It's right here on our forums every day. Read about these two young women's anguish. What advice would you have given them?

Heartbreak, kindness, despair and support. It's right here on our forums every day. And you can become part of this cycle of sharing. Read about these two young women's anguish. What advice would you have given them?

On Health24's forums, the following two stories stood out for us:

A young married woman, already managing HIV in her own life, decides to bring her little sister to the city to live with her family. All is going well until she discovers that her sister is pregnant. The girl, a good student, is unwilling at first to divulge the identity of the father, but eventually confesses that it is her sister’s husband.

People write in to our forums, because they need help – expert advice or peer support – with difficult issues.

Picking up the pieces
What makes this posting stick out among the hundreds that pour in daily is how many layers of heartbreak there are in this story: a young girl’s path altered forever by an early and unplanned pregnancy; the fact that she may now also be HIV-positive, because the husband was the initial carrier in the family, and the life of this woman whose act of kindness has left her picking up the pieces of a shattered heart and home.

While we are unable to reach in and make her problems disappear, the regular contributors to the HIV peer forum poured out their support and understanding. Sometimes that is all that anyone can do.

Dealing with addiction in the family
Another post that drew our attention this week was from a young woman who wrote this to CyberShrink:

“I am a 30 year old women, happily married and 17 weeks pregnant. I have a brother, 32 and a drug user. He has been in and out of rehabs since the age of 16. My parents and I have sold almost everything to help him and each time he is sober for a year, and then goes back.

I have just found out that he has relapsed again, sold everything and is taking heroin. How do I turn my back on family – how?

A doctor once told me that my brother cannot help his drug addiction and has no control over it, and the doctor told me that if he was diagnosed with cancer today, we would not just leave him to fight it himself, and we should see his drug addition like cancer, it is a illness, one which he cannot control.”

Considering how many families in South Africa have been touched by the problem of drug abuse, we found CyberShrink’s sensible and practical advice useful. Dealing with addiction is always going to be difficult, because one has to balance very firm boundaries with compassion – and have radar finely tuned to pick up manipulation!

Write in to our experts with your questions, and to our peer forums to share information and support one another – there’s always someone who understands what you are going through.

(Joanne Hart, Health24, May 2008)


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