Q: As a male with lupus, I sometimes feel like a man in an all female club. I even read somewhere that lupus is a “woman’s disease”. How can I feel less alienated?
A: In some respects having any chronic illness can be more difficult for a man than a woman. Unfortunately, society still places more pressure on men to be strong, able-bodied, hardworking breadwinners. These kinds of expectations can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem in men struggling with health problems, particularly if they are unable to continue working. Men with lupus often feel lonely and isolated since an estimated 80-90% of SLE sufferers are woman. (Discoid lupus and drug-induced lupus are, however, more common in men.) As a man, you need to be able to discuss the impact of lupus on your life, to give and receive support and to share coping strategies with other men who have lupus. I suggest that you contact Lupus International and ask to be put in touch with other men with lupus, particularly those men who are coping well. Ask your rheumatologist or a rheumatologist with a large practice if he or she has any male patients who might be interested in talking or meeting with you. Make use of the Internet where people share ideas, experiences and information in “chat rooms”. (Be advised that the Internet is also filled with misinformation and quackery.) I am certain that there are other men with lupus out there who would welcome the camaraderie.