This is a blog post that has taken me a while to write. One that a few people have been interested to know my thoughts on. One that I have spoken about to friends and family on many occasions and one that I still struggle with. Yes I have a chronic illness. But I am still human. I still have feelings.
No I may not be able to do all of the things I used to be able to or it will take me longer to do them but I’m still me. I’m not lazy. Walk a day in my shoes and see if you can say it again.
Since having fibro, I’ve found that my friend circle has got smaller. People just don’t want to understand what it is like to have a chronic illness. And it’s not because I haven’t tried to explain. Relationships are hard work anyways. Add having a chronic illness and make it 10x harder.
I’m used to it! Friends that I still have often avoid or ignore any comment about fibro. Maybe for fear of saying the wrong thing. I haven’t weighed it up yet and still can’t work out why. Yet switch the subject and they will happily talk about other stuff all day long. Relationships work both ways.
I’ve heard other people with chronic illnesses say that their friend circle is very small too. Having a chronic illness does not make you a leper, although I often feel like it.
One thing I was always taught from a young age was treat others the way that you would like to be treated. It’s something that I have always lived by. Even if someone is horrible to me I go out of my way to prove that I am not like that and turn the other cheek. Maybe that is why I don’t understand why friend’s don’t want to support me or read up more on what fibro is.
Life with chronic illness.
I don’t moan about my chronic illness from day to day. That’s not what I do. I don’t like to do it. I’ve only recently started saying when someone asks if I’m ok replying with ‘I’m having a flare up day’ or ‘fatigue has hit me hard today’ because I just always used to say that I was ok and I don’t think I should feel ashamed to say that. If someone had a bad back then I’m sure they’d say they had a bad back. Right?
I found that by saying I was ok people used to say ‘well you don’t look sick’ and other sarcastic comments about my illness. I found that I was starting to get walked all over for fear of not saying how I felt and not letting this illness control me. I think this kind of talk has led me to push some friends away because I couldn’t deal with the negativity.
I was being walked all over in the sense that because I wasn’t vocal about how I was feeling, when I had a flare up day friends used to expect me to be the same as every other day. They didn’t know how much I was struggling. The stress made me a lot worse too so I finally decided to start being more open and honest.
The breaking point.
Earlier this year I changed my way of dealing with this. With my closest friends and with my family, I started to say if I wasn’t ok. I started to say ‘I’m sorry I haven’t done that – I’m having a flare up’. I’d never done this before and through doing so I’d made myself worse. Enough was enough and I’m so glad that I started speaking up.
I feel through this blog and my social media accounts I can be the real me. I can say how I feel without fear of being judged which is such a release. I just wish it was more like this in real life. I’ve made friends with people who know exactly how I feel and not all of them with fibro. I really do value these friendships so thank you if you’re one of them!
Surely the point of friendships and relationships is to share the high’s and the low’s along with the good and the bad. That’s just part of it? Or am I wrong there? I just wish that there wasn’t such a stigma about chronic illness. There is a still a person behind the illness who right now, needs support, a friend, an ear to listen even more than ever before.
Mental well-being comes into play here too. It affects your self-worth and self-value too. Everyone always says how positive I am – which I am – most of the time. I just wish that I did have more friends. More genuine friends I should say who actually care. Where you can speak freely and openly without fear of being judged.
Final words of wisdom…
If I can offer any advice to any of you reading this blog post. If you have any friends who suffer with a chronic illness or invisible illness. Please support them any way that you can. We won’t be ok from day to day. But we need someone to speak to. Someone to be honest with. Someone to listen. Isn’t that what everybody needs?