I Lost Friends Due to My Chronic Illness
As I’ve written about before, I’ve lost a lot to AS. One of the things that hurts the most (personally) is losing friends. I had a situation recently that sparked me writing this, where I lost an entire friend group in a matter of minutes.
I’d had this group of friends since high school. We played video games every day after school together and talked all the time. They knew me pre-sickness. The Steff I used to be… the person that no longer exists.
After high school, we saw and talked less, as we all do. We would get together for the occasional board game night, party, or cottage trip. Once I got sick, I was unable to join them for these nights as often.
Pain and fatigue had started to take over my life, and that’s when I noticed the friends in this group would text me less and less. It was upsetting, but I wrote it off as everyone was too busy with work and school. Plus, I had my own chronic pain journey that I was on.
I started to notice over the years that I was included less and less in plans. When I did show up, no one asked how I was doing with the pain, and no one really listened whenever I brought it up. They were more preoccupied with the past hangouts they had when I wasn’t there. I began to feel left out and depressed after hanging out with this friend group.
I didn’t quite know what to think of it, though. And a lot of this happened when I was still undiagnosed, so there was a lot of confusion and depression in my life at that time. None of which I talked about with them, because whenever I brought it up, no one really seemed to care.
What I found out
For the past 3 years, my anxiety has eaten away at me as to why this group never texts me or plans events with me anymore. I had realized that the only way I would be seeing these people was if I texted them first and planned an event with everyone. Even when I did see them, I wasn’t 100% comfortable being myself and showing them my vulnerable side.
I was thinking about it the other night, and my anxiety took the idea and ran with it. I didn’t feel good about seeing their names on my Facebook or Instagram feeds anymore.
I’m one of those people that will cut someone out of my life if they don’t believe my illness or treat me how I should be treated as a friend. I have no problem doing it.
I needed answers
Then I decided to text my “friend” that I had had a few conversations with about our mental illnesses. I felt comfortable asking him over anyone else in the group. At least he had been comfortable enough with me to show a little bit of his vulnerable side previously.
I asked him if there was a specific reason no one talked to me anymore, and why I never saw anyone unless I made the plans. Looking back, I should have expected the answer, but in the moment, I didn’t.
What he told me
He told me that it wasn’t that nobody liked me, but no one wanted to reach out to me because they didn’t know what to say to me anymore. They felt that when we hung out, we talked about the same things (my health).
That answer kind of stung. The idea of having friends that I can’t talk to about what goes on in my life - which is heavily medical-related didn’t sit well with me. That was the answer I needed in a sense.
I told him "thank" you, and I promptly deleted them off of my social media. I don’t feel comfortable with people following me just to judge me and not care about what is actually going on.
My takeaway from this whole experience is not to keep friends around that don’t put in the effort. I know I did, and that I’m a good friend. So, in the end, I don’t need them in my life.
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?