Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Where Did All My Friends Go?

Something I have no doubt you have noticed if you have a chronic illness is how abruptly you suddenly find yourself alone, or feeling alone. Before I became ill, I had what I would have considered a close circle of friends I could count on for anything. Shortly after becoming sick, and with no diagnosis to explain why, I found myself with one good friend and only my immediate family to rely on.

The incredibly frustrating part about illness is that despite all of the pent up emotions you are experiencing, those around you are most likely experiencing them as well. Sure, maybe not on the same spectrum, but often times you are still expected to understand and even sympathize with them for being frustrated with you.

This is where things get tricky, usually really quickly. Most people obviously don’t plan, or expect, to become ill at any certain point in their lives. However, with dysautonomia, that can change in what feels like a second. Unfortunately, nearly all of the people I have found with a diagnosis of POTS are young women, a lot of whom developed symptoms abruptly in their teen years.

For many people I know, illness is a very difficult thing to come to terms with. For teens, often they feel the best way to deal with an issue is to avoid it and pretend it isn’t happening. To be fair, quite a few adults still do this too. However, this is where that circle of friends that you thought would be there through anything starts to dissipate. Having a chronic illness is a blessing and a curse when it comes to relationships. On one hand, you learn faster than you ever thought imaginable who your true friends are. On the other hand, you can’t help but feel betrayed and abandoned by those you thought you were closest to.

One thing I tell myself constantly when things start to get really tough is “this too shall pass”. I like to remind myself that no matter what sort of crazy, miserable, and just plain messy madness is occurring, it is only temporary. I can promise you that you will probably never forget how those people made you feel, but there will be a time where you are thanking them, instead of despising them. There will be a time where the pain is not a constant feeling, but a fleeting reminder of how strong you are to be able to do this. And I can promise you, you will never be alone. After all, if you’re reading this, there are at least two of us in this thing together. And I don’t know about you, but I have no plans on moping around because somebody else is shallow, they have their whole life to do that for their self. Consider the fact that maybe your life is actually better off without them. Crazy, right?

On that note, I encourage you to take a look around you and recognize the people who either stuck by you, or showed up along the way. Life has an interesting way of directing us to where we’re supposed to be, and a lot of the times it isn’t the way we would have chosen for ourselves, but somehow we still get to where we need to be – eventually. If there is one thing you can do for the people who support you, new or old, it’s to let them know how much you appreciate and value them. Who doesn’t enjoy hearing their efforts are recognized? If you’re reading this and insisting that you have no one, just remind yourself that sometimes you’ve got to spend some time being alone to truly appreciate good company. Every feeling that you feel right now is temporary, and you can seek comfort knowing that at some point, it has to go away. Rest easy spoonies. 

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