February 24th, 2013

How does this conversation start / flow / end? (Character discussing his chronic illness)

Setting: Canada, relatively current time - random ages assigned compared with a few back story facts actually makes it a few years from now, though the exact year isn't important

Research Done: I've looked for articles, youtube clips, etc. on "telling a friend about illness" "talking about illness" "talking about chronic illness" "a friend's illness" etc. I've found what appears to be an abundance of great resources for real world situations of people trying to understand what the other person is feeling in these situations, but I haven't found any examples of how the conversation actually goes.


My main character is a man in his early 40s. He has just come home from spending a weekend in hospital, where he has been told that he has a chronic illness. The exact details aren't important to my question, so I'll spare them for sake of brevity, but what is important is that he's going to have a rough time healing from this particular flareup, but should be able to keep his symptoms to a minimum in the future. A key complication, however, is that he has PTSD (which he is used to hiding from everyone at all costs), but he's recently found himself in a particularly bad slump (depression relapse, dramatic increase in frequency/severity of anxiety symptoms, etc.). This is both a concern in and of itself, as it's disrupting his daily life and it further distresses him that it's now so bad that he can't hide it well, but it is also magnifying his physical health issues.

In the scene I'm trying to write, he's at home with his family. His kids are off in their rooms or whatever, he's in the living room with his wife and brother (brother is visiting long term), and they're being visited by close friends (a married couple), one of whom happens to also be my main character's boss at work. Obviously these two friends are concerned and want to know how my character is doing, but there's the added factor of boss-employee discussing the employee's need for medical leave from work.


How exactly does this conversation go? What questions are the friends going to ask? What answers are they looking for, regardless of how/what they ask? How hesitant are they to ask certain things? Keep in mind that my main character currently doesn't have the energy to hide his mental health symptoms like he usually does, so these two are going to be seeing, likely for the first time, exactly how much he's struggling, and they do sort of realize that this is something that has been going on for as long as they've known him.