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I’m The Girl Who Always Cancels

For most of my life, I’ve been the friend who gets sick a lot. My immune system has never been great, and while in school I would tend to miss a lot of it. It even became known to the teachers that I would miss weeks at a time. Everyone started to expect it from me.

My anxiety

Long before I ever became sick with AS, I had social anxiety. I like to say that I was shy right out of the womb. I could barely talk to extended family members, family friends, or anyone I didn’t know well.

I was always out sick

As early as Grade 3, I can remember being “sick” a lot and missing a total of a month out of the school year. From there on, it kind of became a given that I would miss that much every year.

Then came Grade 7. I’m not sure why looking back, but it was a really hard year for me socially. I think I’ve kind of repressed a lot of the memories from that year. I ended up being so “sick” at one point that I missed an entire month. Anyone with anxiety knows that after that first day missed, your anxiety about going back only grows that.

There were questions

Everyone would be asking me what was going on, where I was and when I was coming back. I didn’t know, and I had started to develop physical symptoms of my anxiety. I felt dizzy all of the time, generally unwell, and couldn’t even think of going back. This was at the time of the Swine Flu, and one of my teachers started asking my peers if I had it. Luckily, that didn’t spread into an untrue rumor.

No one in my life knew that social anxiety existed. I went to my family doctor, and she didn’t suggest it either. She thought I was underweight and that was the cause of my symptoms. It wasn’t until about Grade 11 that I figured out that I had social anxiety.

When my symptoms started

Back in February of 2017 is when my symptoms of AS started showing up. For about 2 weeks I forced myself to go to work while in excruciating pain. On the last day I was ever there, my GM came up to me and told me to go see a doctor. I went the next day, and never went back to work.

That doctor’s visit sprung me into a whole different life, and I kind of disappeared from everyone for a while. No one knew what was happening to me, but neither did I. I didn’t want to keep having to explain myself to everyone when I had no clue what was going on.

Coworkers were angry with me, which I didn’t find out until later, but in all honesty, I don’t care. I needed to take care of the life-changing thing that was happening to my body.

Since being diagnosed

I’ve had to cancel a lot of plans in the past 2.5 years. Whether it be due to pain, fatigue, illness, I’ve canceled a lot. It’s not something I pride myself on at all. I hate having to do it, and I hate having to be the girl who always cancels.

Always canceling plans leads to a lot of anger and disappointment directed at you. It’s not a fun feeling. I feel like, after a certain amount of times, people stop believing you. They expect you to cancel, and then after a while, they stop inviting you to things.

It’s lonely

This disease is isolating. It’s isolating in many ways, and having to cancel most of the plans you make is definitely one of those ways. Trust me, I get it. Having the same person almost never follow through on your plans gets tiring and annoying. It just sucks when your body physically won’t allow you to follow through.

Giving an explanation

I always give an explanation as to why I have to cancel. Whether they choose to believe it or not, that’s not my responsibility. I’m always honest, and that’s all I can do.

Do you tend to have to cancel a lot of your plans? If so, what do you do to try and minimize the backlash you get from doing so?

If you do cancel plans a lot due to your health, just know that it’s not your fault. You have to take care of yourself and your body first. Overdoing it can be dangerous and lead to days in bed, feeling sick, and pain.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AnkylosingSpondylitis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Auldyn Matthews-McGee moderator
    1 month ago

    Keegan and I had some moments like this over the weekend. Seeing this article pop up made my heart drop. I hate that so many have to go through experiences like this one. Keegan hates to feel like an inconvenience but our friends love him!

    The social anxiety stacked on top of everything else really sucks. I hope that things are getting a little easier for you and I hope you have supportive and understanding friends like we do. It’s the only way we’ve coped at times.

    Warm hugs to you!

  • Lisa Marie Basile moderator
    1 month ago

    I wish I could convey the extent to which I associate. A few years ago, when my AS wasn’t extreme but was starting to flare-up (undiagnosed, but loads of fatigue), my friends were like, ‘Lisa’s just flaky.’ And it stuck. Like, it hurt. My body just wasn’t doing what everyone’s could do, and it sucked.

    I’m so sorry that you feel that, and that you have to cancel. I found that pairing down my social circle to people who GET IT has really helped — even if it’s a bit lonelier.

    I’m sending you support!

  • Lawrence "Rick" Phillips moderator
    1 month ago

    I am so glad Sheryl has always helped me navigate the world Thankfully I seldom have to drive, and she is always sensitive to how I am doing.

    I think it often helps to have someone run interference for you. It is one great part of a being a long term couple. We have others to give us have a hug when we it is needed.

    I do like those hugs.

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