Written by Dr. Lise Deguire on November 24, 2020
edited by Emily Averton
In this special podcast, we interviewed burn survivor and clinical psychologist Dr. Lise DeGuire. Lise shares the healing value of connection and offers tips for overcoming the barriers burn survivors face when building relationships..
This podcast appeared in the fall 2020 issue of Burn Support Magazine. Subscribe now to receive free issues of Burn Support Magazine three times a year.
I’m delighted to be back with another podcast for this issue of Burn Support Magazine. Last time, we talked about ways to increase your capacity for resilience. If you missed it, you can listen to the podcast here.
This time, I want to talk about connection with others, because we know that part of resilient recovery is having meaningful, committed and loving relationships.
There is no way I could have survived my burn injury without the support of friends. For me, my best support came from my friends, my brother, and my surgeon. My parents were very limited people, and they didn’t have much to offer me. But my best friends cared for me and kept me going. They loved me as I was.
It is so important to build meaningful relationships with other people, but it isn’t always easy. When you’re a burn survivor, you know there can be barriers to connection.
There is an inevitable moment when you meet someone new when you must manage the impact your appearance has on another person. If you have hidden burns, you don’t have to handle that moment right away. However, you still know that there is something different about you that the new acquaintance doesn’t know yet. What will they think about you when they find out? The moment lingers out there, waiting to happen.
Most of us learn to manage these moments. We smile and act extra friendly. Perhaps we crack a joke or two. Sometimes we pretend we don’t care. Sometimes we cover ourselves with hats, hoods, and extra makeup.
There are lots of ways to cope, but there is almost always a social moment for us to manage.
As a burn survivor, I find that I’m often expected to be the most socially skilled person in the room. It becomes my job to put others at ease and manage that inevitable moment of uncertainty or discomfort. Is it fair? No. But it’s my reality. It’s that way for a lot of other burn survivors, too.
As far as I’m concerned, we have two ways to deal with this expectation. We can focus on our resentment of that burden and wallow in the pain it causes – OR we can arm ourselves with tools and information to take control of that inevitable moment and walk away feeling empowered.
In my own life, I choose Option Two. It’s not always the easiest path, but in the end, I feel more fulfilled and connected. In this podcast, I’ll share some ways to increase your own capacity for connection by improving your social skills and recharging through self-care.
I hope you enjoy!
- Dr. Lise Deguire
At the age of four, Dr. Lise Deguire suffered third-degree burns on 65% of her body as the result of both maternal and corporate negligence. Against the odds, she lived through the trauma, beginning decades of treatment as a burn survivor. Dr. Deguire tells the tragic story of her family, which includes artistic genius, stark neglect, and four suicides. Most importantly, she explains her long but ultimately triumphant path towards love, health, and life satisfaction.Learn More