The worst part of my chronic illness isn’t the pain, feeling shitty, or the endless meds and doctors appointments… it’s the bone crippling loneliness. The world is going at a hundred miles per hour around me while I sit still. Friends go on and grow while I sit stagnant.
I have no consistent social life since I can’t work. I can barely commit to anything because I won’t know how I will feel and I don’t want to let people down by canceling. I could go days with out interacting and that is so fucking depressing.
This lack of interaction creates a couple of emotions…
1. Insecurity: You see everyone out doing fun things or growing in their careers… yet you can’t participate. You start telling yourself horrible things about why people don’t want to hang around you. You’re not able to keep up with people and rarely are people willing to slow down for you. You quickly start believing your worthless.
2. neediness: you start CRAVING connection. It’s like your body and brain go through withdrawal. You start pestering friends… pestering to the point they hate you and leave you. They have jobs and have no idea why you could be so lonely. Don’t get me started on how you’ll feel about canceled plans… you won’t have your normal reaction of “thank God I can just stay home and rest”. Instead it’s “I’ve been looking forward to this social interaction all week… it was the highlight of my week!”. You will feel disappointment like you’ve never felt before… because your brain has turned into a needy bitch.
3. absolute loneliness: you are left with your pain and illness as your only constant. Your brain starts playing tricks on you. You start to realize you’re not a part of society any longer. The world has moved on with out you. It doesn’t need you any more.
4. crippling depression: Your world has come crashing down. Your brain just can’t function normally. You become this hyper emotional creature from the depth of hell that is a dark shadow upon the light of the world. Being on huge doses of pain meds doesn’t help either. You unlovable at times.
Expect friends to leave you. This was the hardest part for me. Friends can’t understand what you’re going through. They have their own lives… their own struggles. One by one they will leave you. That’s okay. They have lives too. You can’t expect them to move at your speed. My own husband couldn’t handle it. If a spouse can’t handle it how can you expect a friend to handle it.
The emotional aspects of having a chronic illness or chronic pain are worse than the physical aspects. I long to work in an office or group again just so I can have a social outlet and feel productive. I’m thankful for the couple of friends who can handle my crazy when it kicks up. I’m thankful for those who haven’t turned their back on me. I’m thankful for those who remember “hey Elizabeth might want to join me/us”. These are the people who will get me through.