Why It Means So Much to Bond With Someone Over Chronic Illness

The medical conditions I have are relatively rare in the sense that I do not meet very many people in real life who have a serious, chronic medical condition or experience excruciating pain on a daily basis, as I do. It could partly be because I live in a very rural area, in a small village with a minuscule population. My village is great, it is like one big family, but I always have felt like the odd one out when I pass people in the street. I know there are other people dealing with their own very serious problems, but it often feels like I have no one to talk to who really understands what I am going through to any extent. That is why I get so excited when I hear about someone or meet someone who does have serious medical problems.

It sounds so bad to say I am excited to meet people with medical problems, but it is important to note that I am not happy they personally have these conditions and have to experience horrible pain and other symptoms. I would never wish what I have (or any medical/health problems) on anyone. The reason I get so excited is because I know these individuals truly and unequivocally understand the negative experiences I have and continue to go through. These individuals can truly empathize with me on a very personal level. It is as if we are bound together in the vast and unfair web of chronic illness and we can commiserate with each other and bond over our pain.

I recently met someone who has one of the same conditions I have, and we automatically started trading “war stories” with one another. I know it isn’t just me who gets excited because I saw the same look on their face that I must have expressed on mine. We talked about our experiences with surgery and the terrible and unreal pain we have expensed.

I had another similar incident happen to me as well. I must go to physical therapy (thanks Ehlers-Danlos), and when my physical therapist found out I am chronically ill, she immediately told me I reminded her of her daughter who is also chronically ill. My physical therapist, though she was not the one with the chronic illness, could also share “war stories” with me about her daughter. I often forget the trials that my loved ones, especially my mother, have had to overcome due to my chronic illness. My mother and my physical therapist also bonded with each other, as they knew exactly what the other had gone through, because they had each gone through it themselves.

Sometimes I feel so alone in my experiences with chronic illness. I often feel like no one really understands – how could they? Then I meet, in person, someone who has gone through something similar and instantly realize I am not alone and never was. We are all bound together by the ties and the grip of chronic illness and though I would never wish it on anyone, it is nice to know there are people out there who truly do understand.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Photo via Image Source on Getty Images

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Chronic Illness

I May Be Chronically Ill, but I Am Still a Good Mom

I often hear people sharing their thoughts of sympathy with me. “Oh, I am so sorry, this must be so difficult for you” is something I hear a lot when people find out I have a connective tissue disease and the baby in the buggy is in fact mine and not some child I am [...]

22 Personal Care Products to Use If You Are Sensitive to Scents and Chemicals

While the average healthy person may delight in the fragrances of candles, perfumes and body washes, many in our chronic illness community have to be more cautious when selecting products to use in your home or for personal care. Chronic illness (and even some medications) can cause those affected to be extra sensitive to strong smells, chemicals [...]
two surgeons using tools during surgery

Surgeon Admits to Branding His Initials on Patients' Organs During Surgery

For patients, undergoing surgery is a nerve-wracking process. It requires trust that your doctors have your best interest at heart and won’t take advantage of your vulnerability while you’re under anesthesia or even just lying on the table. Violating his patients’ trust, a U.K. surgeon has plead guilty to two counts of assault, for “burning” [...]
woman in a jacket and hat standing outside

The Part of Chronic Illness No One Talks About

When you have a chronic illness or an invisible illness, it can be a lot to bear. One would think it’s just the illness itself and that’s it, but no. There is a lot more to it and not many people talk about it. Maybe no one mentions it out of fear, or embarrassment, but [...]