How Anxiety Can 'Talk' When You Have a Chronic Illness
There are times when I feel completely selfish. I’ll let my Meniere’s disease control my life at times. I’ll avoid friends. I’ll avoid family. I’ll avoid work obligations. I’ll avoid almost everything. Most people don’t seem to understand that it’s not something I want to do, but it’s something I feel like I have to do. I have to avoid things so I can function.
I have to avoid things so I can be a human in my own head. I feel embarrassed if I go out in public and can’t walk straight. My mind immediately assumes others must think that I’m drunk. I avoid going out in public because I don’t want to be judged by others. I’ll avoid talking to others because I’m afraid I’ll have to make them repeat themselves constantly. I’m afraid I’ll be the person no one can stand to be around.
I know a lot of this ties in with anxiety and sounds completely ridiculous, but it makes me feel like I’m being selfish. I don’t often talk to people about my illness because I’m afraid they’ll blow it off as just something I should “get over,” or they won’t understand it. They don’t understand that something as simple as weather changing can completely change my mood, can cause me to be in immense pain. That it causes me to want to curl up in a ball and just go to sleep.
There have been times where I’ve been at a friend’s place and I’ve had no choice but to just go to sleep. It feels like a migraine‘s coming on, when I know exactly what it is. It’s just the air pressure building up. Before a storm, during a storm, after a storm – those are the worst times. Those are the times I feel like a horrible person for keeping myself away from my friends and family.
I’ll make excuses not to do things because I don’t want my friends and family to decide that I’m too sick to go, and then do something anyway. I fear my excuses are going to cause them to stop inviting me out either way, and it feels like a no-win situation at times. I’ll try to force myself to go out, but a lot of the time I just say, “I can’t drive in the rain.” Other times, I just won’t go.
It makes me feel selfish because I know there are people with chronic illnesses much more severe than mine. I’ll stop answering phone calls when I’m having particularly bad spells because I can’t handle the pain of having to hold the phone to my already throbbing ear. I’ll feel humiliated when I have to ask what they’re saying over and over because I can hardly hear anything due to the ringing.
I know that having a chronic illness doesn’t make me a selfish person, but at times it makes me feel like I’m a horrible person and a horrible friend. It makes me feel like a burden to everyone around me, and I fear others won’t understand what I go through.
Again, I know it’s the anxiety talking. I know I have to get up, and force myself through the day no matter how bad the pain is that day. But sometimes – sometimes I just feel like a selfish monster for not wanting to do anything besides trying to take care of myself. I know that I’m not, I know self-care is important. There are just times when it feels like the burden of my illness becomes more notable to others than my value, and who I am.