How AS Can Affect Friendships
Having a chronic illness affects us in so many ways. Physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, socially, the list goes on. Today I’m writing about how it affects us socially, more specifically, our friendships.
When they don’t understand
Since the beginning of my illness, I’ve lost quite a few friends. I lost some friends due to the fact that they just couldn’t comprehend that I’m now a sick person. When telling them I couldn’t walk, they didn’t take me seriously. I’d always been that kid in school who gets sick a lot, so they probably thought it was no big deal.
I would also get told “They’re doctors, they know what they’re doing, calm down” a lot from certain people. No matter how much I would try to explain that I couldn’t walk to them, it didn’t seem to change their minds. One of my friend groups pretty much just dismissed me as being dramatic, and they all just slowly faded from my life.
When dealing with people who can’t or won’t accept my illness, I’ve found over the years that the best thing to do is to end the friendship. I think we can all agree that we have enough going on, and we don’t need more negative in our lives.
It feels like all I ever talk about is the side effect fatigue. Quite honestly, I talk about it so much because it’s the side effect that plagues me the most. I can deal with the pain most days, but the fatigue is something I can’t. It’s also something that pretty much can’t be helped either.
From an outside perspective, being seen as fatigued is also seen as being lazy. I tend to get really defensive about being called lazy. If people only knew what it was like to feel like your body is so heavy that it takes all of your energy just to get up and brush your teeth.
Sometimes (a lot of times) I have to cancel plans with friends due to fatigue. I don’t drive, so the thought of having to bus, subway, train, etc. is sometimes so anxiety-inducing just because of how fatigued I am. Having to get up and get ready, take a half-hour to two-hour bus ride is just not happening most days.
I feel bad for being so fatigued, but I can’t help it. When most friends don’t want to just sit around and watch TV all day, I can’t control it if my body won’t allow anything else. My health and well-being come first.
The friends that get it
Saying all of that, I am grateful for the (few) friends that stuck around through my health journey. Even if they are few, they mean the world to me.
It’s so important to make sure you let your family and friends know how you’re feeling. Otherwise, they won’t be able to understand you as well as you might want to be understood. Having a strong support system is one of the most important things for those of us with chronic illnesses. We need our friends to lean on when things get rough.
Share Your Experience
What has helped you manage your friendships while dealing with AS? Share your tips with me, I’d love to find out!
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?