Notes to Teenagers with Bleeding Disorders
About being a teen
Your teenage years are an in-between stage of your life. They can be a confusing and sometimes painful part of growing up. You are no longer a child but not yet an adult. In truth, you may not be sure which you want to be. Although you want your independence, sometimes you wish your parents could still make decisions and work things out for you. At one time or another, all teenagers feel this conflict between growing up and staying a child.
Because you have a bleeding disorder and depend on adults for medical care, you may feel even more confused at times about growing up and being independent. One way to ease this problem is to take charge of taking your medication. As you learn to treat your disorder yourself, you will gain a sense of control over your life. Being in tune with your body and being able to respond to your medical needs can make you feel very good about yourself.
During their teens, most, if not all, young people feel a great deal of concern about their looks and body build. It may be very important to you that others your same age (your peers) accept you as being part of the group. Most teenagers want to fit in and not be different in any way.
Having a bleeding disorder may make you even more concerned at times about being like your friends. Perhaps you feel left out if you cannot compete in the sports your friends choose. Some boys with bleeding disorders feel less masculine than others their own age. Some girls feel hampered by heavy periods and visible bruises. Some teens even feel "defective" at times. It may help to know that all teenagers are very lonely sometimes and feel they have problems no one else has.
Since you have a bleeding disorder, you do have concerns not faced by everyone. It may be helpful to meet other young people your age who also have bleeding disorders. A great place to do this is at bleeding disorder summer camp. Teens who have the same experiences you have can suggest ways to handle common problems. If you share your feelings and worries with people who care, you may find that others have felt the same way. You will feel better yourself. If you ever feel that your troubles are just too much for you, talk to your doctor, nurse, or social worker.
When you feel down about yourself, look for ways to boost your self-confidence. Starting an exercise program to keep your body in good shape is one way. The physical therapist at the HTC can help you plan a program that is right for you.
Another way to feel better about yourself is to work on an interesting hobby or skill. Every person has special talents. Maybe yours is a creative skill such as writing or drawing. If you make an effort to improve yourself or grow in some way, you will become more satisfied with yourself. This is a good time to begin planning for your future career. Planning for a future job can help you find out your interests and abilities. You can learn what skills are needed in the jobs you would like to do.
Sometimes, young people with bleeding disorders are so eager to be just like everyone else they begin "denying" that they have a bleeding disorder. They ignore the signs of bleeding as long as they can and delay taking medication. They may do dangerous things and take foolish, unnecessary chances. They may not realize that they are doing this to prove to themselves and to others that they are no different from anyone else.
This does not mean that you should never take a chance on anything. All of life involves some risk-taking. The only way to be independent is to try new things on your own. However, when you take foolish and unnecessary risks just to prove something, you are only setting yourself up for injury. Growing up includes accepting yourself as you are, both your strengths and your limitations. It means making mature decisions about which risks are the right ones to take.