Preparing to overcome misconceptions and stigmas
You can expect to confront different situations, judgments, and feelings as you move through life with sickle cell. These may not be easy things to face. If you know what to expect, you can prepare yourself to meet these challenges head on. There are many misconceptions associated with sickle cell. Here is a list of common ones:
Misconception 1: Sickle cell is contagious.
Fact: Sickle cell is not contagious; it is inherited.
Misconception 2: Sickle cell only impacts black people or people of African descent.
Fact: Sickle cell predominantly impacts black people or people of African descent. However, it also impacts people of other races and ethnic origins.
Misconception 3: If people do not look like they are in pain – they must not be in pain.
Fact: People with sickle cell may have high pain tolerance or they may be masking their pain.
Misconception 4: People living with sickle cell are lazy.
Fact: People with sickle cell often suffer from the symptoms of fatigue or tiredness – this is not laziness.
Misconception 5: All sickle cell patients are opioid drug seekers.
Fact: Opioids are commonly prescribed to help with the pain that comes with sickle cell – this doesn’t mean that all sickle cell patients are “drug seekers.”
When people do not understand sickle cell and believe these misconceptions it can sometimes cause negative stigmas. Stigma (or bias) is when people disapprove or discriminate against a person based on culture, gender, race, intelligence or health. Unfortunately, negative stigmas toward people who have sickle cell are common.
Others’ judgments usually stem from a lack of understanding. Helping educate others about sickle cell can make a big difference in overcoming stigmas and correcting misconceptions about sickle cell.
Preparing to take care of your body and your mind
Having sickle cell isn’t easy. And everyone’s experience with it is different. You might be used to thinking about self-care as taking your medicines and seeing your doctor. Self-care is also about managing things like stress and your feelings (such as sadness or depression). Accept that some days are going to be hard. But also know that you are a warrior and living with sickle cell has made you stronger.
If you experience depression, this is an opportunity to make small changes that can have a big impact on how you feel. Talk to your doctor about how you are feeling and consider these tips.