Family, F.R.I.E.N.D.S & Fibromyalgia
I have many analogies for describing how it is to live with Fibromyalgia, for this post I would liken it to having a toxic friend that never leaves you in peace, leeches off of you and only has one sided benefits. This toxic friendship subsequently attempts to destroy all other relationships that you have with people.
Living with Fibromyalgia isn’t just physically draining to deal with but also emotionally, mentally and in many cases spiritually draining.
If you were to ask anyone who suffers from Fibromyalgia how their relationships with friends and family has been throughout the years of living with this debilitating illness, I’m sure you’d get a variation of unfortunate, strained relationship stories. I know for myself this has definitely been the case.
Since I was little I’ve always been one to, ‘keep myself to myself’. I’ve mentioned before that I’m an introvert and LOVE my own space, so naturally I’m a loner. I’ve always struggled with forming connections with people and feeling the need to bond, I would say this is actually down to a few reasons; personality, mental illness and of course the soul draining illness that Fibromyalgia is.
The challenge of making friends… whilst living with Fibromyalgia
These are just some of the difficulties faced when trying to make friends or keep friendships whilst living with Fibromyalgia:
- You don’t know when you’re chronic illness symptoms will worsen
- Side effects from medication can also cause problems
- Your health care professionals can call or send a letter to say you need to attend an appointment on the same day/weekend that you planned to do something
- You feel like a complete burden to those around you
- You could plan something in advance but come the day you’re too ill to attend
- It makes you seem unreliable, when in fact it’s your chronic illness that’s causing you to be ‘flaky’
- It’s hard for people who haven’t been in a similar situation or felt chronic pain to understand where you’re coming from
- As well as physical pain, you suffer emotional and mental pain which in turn makes chronic illness harder to cope with (depression and depressive cycles)
- Feeling like you’re spoiling the mood because your pain doesn’t allow you to be as ‘fun’ as you want to be
- Feeling as though you’re holding people back because you can’t keep up with them
- Not feeling worthy enough to even have fun or hang out with others
- Social anxiety and not knowing if you’ll get stuck somewhere whilst you’re out
- Feeling the need to know every single step that’s going to take place
- Worrying if you’ll run out of essentials or forget medication whilst you’re out
The list could honestly go on…
“Can I hang out with you?
There’s a young girl I had met about a year ago when I visited a Japanese ministry group. I took a liking to her sweet demeanor, we exchanged numbers and I was trying to encourage her as she’s a few years younger than me and also told me a bit about what she struggles with. About a month ago, this same young girl that I met last year messaged me with these words, “Hello, so sorry that I haven’t messaged you! I hope you are OK. I’m hoping we could do ministry and hang out”. No joke, I looked at the message when it came through, I was in bed dealing with a chronic pain flare up, I panicked and ignored the message for about two weeks as I just couldn’t fathom the context of it. Why would she message me? Maybe it came to the wrong destination? I’m exhausted, the friendship is only going to fizzle out like everything else?
Anyways after a little thinking and less panicking I decided to message her back. I reasoned with myself that maybe she’ll be understanding if I tell her that I can only do so much due to my health, I mean how would she know if I don’t let it be known? Also, I would hate to ever feel like I could’ve been of some sort of help and completely ignored a sign or call from someone in need. I always say that I would like to be there for the younger generation just like I would’ve liked when I was younger. To feel comfortable enough to speak so openly and confide in an older sister or brother figure. So after some thinking I decided that all I can do is try.
Long story short, I plan to meet up with her soon to do something simple like sit in Starbucks or something and then maybe arrange another time depending how I feel of course. I want to be as open as possible with how my illnesses affect me and all I can do is attempt to educate.
Will my Fibromyalgia allow me to get up on that particular day in the future? I don’t know, but Lord knows my heart and mind was in the right place
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How do you cope with your chronic illness and friendships?!
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