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17 Secrets of Being an Extrovert With a Chronic Illness

If you’re an extrovert, you’d probably rather be chatting up new friends at a party than chilling at home alone. You’re most satisfied when you’re around others, and if given the choice, you’d likely choose to be wherever your “people” are. But what if you aren’t always physically able to go out and spend hours with your friends? What if you’d want nothing more than to grab drinks with co-workers, but you’re in a flare and need to spend the weekend on the couch? For many with chronic illness, this is a reality.

We asked our Mighty community with chronic illness what it’s like being an extrovert while dealing with an illness. When you’re a “people person,” being physically unable to get to your friends can be tough. If this is the case for you, know you’re not alone, and there are many other social butterflies going through the same challenges. And if you’re reading this because you have a friend with a chronic illness, don’t forget to reach out and include them in your plans, even if they frequently have to turn you down.

Here’s what our community told us:

1. “When I’m sick it’s really difficult. It can be really isolating when you don’t have sick friends and you have to forgo a social life to stay in bed. It’s lonely, which drains me. But because I’m an extrovert, I can bring people together and form spoonie communities wherever I am, which is really important so people like me feel less alone.”

2. “Due to medication, I am unable to leave my home much because I cannot drive. So if people do not come to me I am alone all day until my husband gets home. I am a people person. It is more devastating to me to be alone than to be in pain.”

3.It almost feels as if you’re chained down and you’re looking out the window seeing everyone living their lives but mine is in slow motion. It’s heartbreaking. I feel like I am constantly grieving, dreaming of my old life.”

4. “It’s hard because the isolation can be [overwhelming] on some days. I’ve lost interaction with lots of friends because they are always busy (like I was until I got sick). They would still be there for me if I asked, but socializing is near impossible because I never know if a flare will happen.”

5. “Holidays are so hard because I feel obligated to socialize when I’m in severe pain. I just plow through. I feel guilty that I don’t enjoy it. I smile and make small talk, but inside I’m in hellish pain. I try focus on love for people around me, otherwise I’d collapse.”

6. “I think a plus is that my extroversion helps raise awareness of my condition — it’s not well known, and I am always happy to talk about it. A downside would be that I can now hide most of my pain so well that people don’t realize I’m not coping at times.”

7. “The positive aspect of being an extrovert with a chronic illness is that having friends around or making plans is a great distraction from your medical real life. The negative is on the days you have absolutely no energy to be social or carry on a conversation, people think you are upset or mad or even upset with them. It is sometimes hard to explain not having energy to talk or pretend.”

8. “I’ve become more of an ambivert due to taking time for self-care. I have a lovely community online that I am active in even when I can’t get out of bed, which helps my social heart, and I try to get out whenever I can to appease my inner extrovert. It’s a balancing act.”

9. “I think a negative aspect of being an extrovert with a chronic illness is it causes others to expect more out of you. Being more in the spotlight causes you to be watched more by your peers. Even on bad days, people expect you to be at the 100 percent you are at on a good day.”

10. “Had I been an introvert before, I think the circle of people aware of my illnesses and infirmities would be much smaller. But since I was not only physically present and active prior to being disabled, I think my absence is more noticeable.”

11. “It’s a blessing and a curse actually — I’ve always been an extrovert — I used to do a lot of performing, I’m very sociable, love partying and being around friends. On the one hand, it can be very lonely, and people who’ve known me as a party girl are shocked when I can’t make it out. It’s when they stop inviting me to stuff and I see photos of epic nights on Facebook, I can’t help but feel pretty low. On the other hand though, I’ve learned to enjoy my own company, I don’t drink as much as I used to and it saves a lot of money! I do miss it.”

12.I canceled sleepovers in high school because I was scared to annoy my friends by taking my breathing treatment every four hours in the winter and during swim season. My friends just thought I had strict parents and rarely invited me to anything.”

13. “I am constantly pushing myself to continue to be the life and soul of the party and uphold my positive attitude towards everything despite being in agonizing pain, barely being able to move.”

14.I am by nature an adventure-seeking extrovert. I loved adventure and was a social butterfly. I sit back and watch everything now. It’s like the best and most inner parts of me I love are locked in a box. My illness dictates what I do. I am still all of those things but have to function, and functioning takes priority over any recreation.”

15. “Being an extrovert with chronic illness means I overdo it way too often to get the social interaction I crave… I pay for it later, but I will spend afternoons in terrible pain, nauseous and on the brink of tears but happy to be in a room full of people so my extroverted self can refill its batteries.”

16.I obtain my motivation and energy from being around people. I am usually able to leave the house whenever I want, but my chronic illnesses cause pain that can make the whole experience unenjoyable. It’s a lose-lose situation: go out and get a flare-up, or stay home and feel antsy from isolation.”

17. “It’s weird because you feel like you’re two different people. When I’m socializing I try to be lively and that’s good in one way because it’s sort of helpful in distracting me from the pain. However, once I get alone I have to deal with all that extra pain I caused myself by socializing, so I turn into a completely different person.”

17 Secrets of Being an Extrovert With a Chronic Illness