When you have a chronic illness there is a lot of things that you are no longer able to do. Something that you may have been fine doing before is no longer possible without a struggle of some sort. This can take a toll on relationships and affect the people around you. At one point you were able to do something with them then all of a sudden you can’t. Taking care of your health becomes a priority and I can understand how it would be difficult for the other people around you to come to terms with that. Some people are really understanding and some people don’t quite understand it as much. Losing friends is a real problem for people with a chronic illness and it can be hard to deal with.
I am not someone that has a big group of friends that I can spend time with in person. I only have a few friends that live close that I can meet up with and I try to make the most of it. Having M.E does limit how much I can do though and also makes it hard to make new friends. M.E is really unpredictable so I may not always be able to go out and when I do it would have to be a somewhat light activity so that I don’t crash too much. I also can’t go out regularly and having other forms of communication are important.
I thought I would share some points from my perspective and hopefully it will help those who are well but may have a friend or family member with M.E.
I do actually want to socialise.
Although I am a naturally shy person and like to spend some time by myself I also do want to go out with my friends. It can get frustrating that I can’t do what I used to and I think it’s important that people understand that I still do want to hang out with my friends. While it’s not always possible the desire is still there. It is also nice knowing that I was invited and while I may have to cancel out on plans it’s not because I don’t want to go out but because my body won’t allow me.
Our activities may have to change.
With M.E I get exhausted a lot which means that there will be times where I need to have a break or you may need to do most of the talking. Talking does use energy so if a friend understands that then it is great and helps out a lot. You have to be somewhat flexible with what you do. Ask how they are feeling and what they are able to do that day. It may mean that you need to change a few things but it will be worth it to keep a friendship going.
Try a different form of communication.
I find it a lot easier to text than I do to talk on the phone. Some of that may have to do with my shyness but if I am talking on the phone for too long it can get tiring and I can’t pay attention as easily. Texting I can lay down and rest while still having a conversation. Try to keep in contact in other ways because it could be weeks or even months between seeing someone in person.
There will be other things you can do to help your friend with this illness. It will also depend on the person and how bad their M.E is. Some other things may be offering to pick your friend up so that they don’t have to drive or going around to their place to visit instead of going out somewhere if that is possible. It’s about finding out what you could do to help while keeping the friendship strong.
There isn’t always going to be understanding people though and there will be friendships lost but the friends that matter will want to help and try to understand what it is we are going through and how they can make socialising a bit more easier for us.