Saturday, March 20, 2010

Friendship and Chronic Illness

Having a disease like dysautonomia can make it easy to be angry and play the blame game. This disease has taken so much away from me, and if you have read my blogs, I surely don't need to list them. When I first thought about writing a blog on friendship a month ago, it would have been other directed. I would have cast blame on friends no longer in my life (or barely there). I would have totally blamed this disease, and never cast the blame on the one most responsible, MYSELF! But I can't lay total blame on dysautonomia or my friends for my isolation. Isolation is a choice, a choice only I can be held responsible for.

This disease can definitely rain on your friendship parade. Working makes me too pooped to do anything else. Weekends for me are spent re cooping from the previous week and building up my strength to go to work the next week. Phone calls are difficult, holding the phone to my ear for more than five minutes is painful (and I don't believe in speaker phone, it's a privacy thing). It's hard to make future plans when I don't know how I'm going to feel at any given time. The meds I'm on can make me a bit sullen and uncommunicative. Then there is the fact that when I am out with friends, I often have to cut it short because I am too tired to continue. There's also the tricky business of having friends over, and telling them they need to leave, because I need to go to bed (what kind of friend is that?).Then there's that voice in my head that whispers little lies such as "you've become quite boring since you got sick" or "who wants to hang out with a couch potato" or "if you call and ask them over, I'm sure they have better things to do than sit with you!" Now some of these things may be true, but believing these lies only fuels the fire of self doubt, and makes that deep hole of isolation even more difficult to climb out of.

To be totally honest, friendship involves some work. It involves time, commitment and communication. And all of these take some energy on my part, and energy is the one thing of which I have so little of, and it is this lack of energy that often derails the friendship train. For me it's easy to allow lethargy to take over, to remain in isolation, which makes it easier to forget what it's like to experience special moments with friends.

It would be very easy for me to submit to a life of isolation, to accept it as my new normal, like everything else I've learned to accept since my dysautonomia diagnosis. But thankfully there is another voice that speaks louder than the self doubt. A strong voice of determination for what I really need. I wasn't placed here on this earth to be in isolation. I'm meant to be connected with others. I'm at my weakest when I'm alone and vulnerable, I'm stronger in unity with others. It's not just for my sanity, but for theirs as well. My choice to isolate myself hurts them as well, it robs them of the purpose I was placed in their lives for, to be their friend.

What I'm learning from this, is that my true friends will sit with the couch potato, they won't baulk when I have to leave early, and they will only want what's best for me, if I send them home early. The fair weather friends will do exactly as the voices of doubt said they would, and those are not my friends. In order to have friends I need to be one, and joyfully invest the energy to be with them, and reap the rewards of my small investment.


P.S. I'm thankful for this outlet to express the areas in my life I'm struggling with. It often forces me to seek solutions to these problems that I wasn't ready to deal with until I decided to blog them. Thank you for your continued support and encouragement, without it, I would probably be floundering in self pity and doubt.

No comments:

Post a Comment