Disclaimer: This post may come off as “whiny”. Unless you’ve gone through serious life issues where you lost contact with people in your life because of something out of your control, you’ll get it. If you haven’t, it’ll probably come off as childish. But I promise, it’s not.
No matter what age someone is, having an illness is difficult. Puts strain on the individual’s life and the individual’s family and friends as well. That’s all expected. We know it. But what no one really tells you is your social life… your “friends”? They’re going to disappear and probably never return.
I knew I’d lose people in the midst of this. I just never knew how hard it would be after to try to socialize. I’m very lucky I have an illness where I was able to get a diagnosis quickly, have surgery and begin recovery. I will never be the same nor will I ever fully heal, but I’m much better than I once was.
I find it hard to socialize now for a few of reasons:
- My mind doesn’t function the way it used to.
- I get tired easily still.
- I was sick for 3 years that socializing was so difficult, I stopped being able to go out. I was too tired & too stressed to go to everything I was invited to.
I get it. People will never get that my tired is not like their tired. I remember the tired I used to be before my illness hit me hard, and I would kill to be that type of tired again because at least I was still able to go out, stay up late, sleep, wake up whenever I needed to and do what I had to do all over again. Now it’s not the same. I sleep? I’m exhausted. I go out for a bit in town to run a few errands? I’m wiped. I drive 30-40 mins for appointments? I’m wiped from the drive. So when I tell people I’m tired, they get frustrated and obviously stop inviting me places and want nothing to do with me. The type of tired I feel is something only those with chronic or serious illness can understand. It honestly is nothing like anything I had felt before this. So if you know someone who is sick and says this, please take them seriously.
Back to the point, now.
People don’t ever really talk about how hard it is to get a social life back once you’re on the mend and feeling well enough to start re-connecting with people again. At 24, I’ve lost THREE years of socializing. 21-24. Those are prime years in meeting new people, getting life experiences, making memories. A lot of people in my age range have their group of people, their memories, their routines. I’ve merely fallen into their online presence routine and I’m having a hard time getting out.
I want to re-connect with people, I want to connect with people I was starting to get to know around the time I was wondering what was happening to me, but didn’t get the chance to fully form strong bonds with. I know the approach is simple, explain what happened, how I’m feeling and whatnot, but to really go about saying it? A lot of people get turned off by people being honest.
I can’t sit here and pretend I’m okay with this, that I’ve accepted this is my new way of life and so on. I have to admit, this is tough. It’s mentally draining and it’s definitely a contributor to depression. Having spoken to a few others my age who went through what I went through, they’re having the same struggles and find it contributes to their anxieties and depression, too.
I won’t lie. There are times where I cry about this. I went from having a lot of different groups of friends, to feeling like nothing. I feel like I’ve forgotten how to socialize. I feel like everyone’s had enough with my “excuses” in the past, that they will think I’ll do it again. I get it – it’s not fun having someone say no or change their mind to plans but I never backed out unless I seriously thought I was too unwell to do something. But again, people don’t get that. People aren’t empathetic and don’t know how to place themselves in other people’s shoes.
Illness absolutely takes such a major toll on someone’s life and on top of dealing with the illness, balancing work, family, friends and possibly a relationship, to then finding a solution, going through the solution, to recovery, finding yourself and getting back into daily routine of life, socializing is another whole battle to add to that list. It sucks others feel this, but talking to a couple of people, it’s nice to know I’m not crazy or alone in this.
I don’t know who reads my posts. I don’t know if anyone cares to. But, if you’re reading this and we used to speak or spend time together, I’d love to hear from you. I’d probably love to catch up some time. But truly – not just the “I want to catch up” line. I’ve spent too much time being sick and realizing what is important in life to ever say that line just to “be nice”.
Have you had an illness and had a similar experience? I’d love to chat with you about it – what you’re doing to cope and overcome it all. Leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail 🙂 firstname.lastname@example.org