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To My Friends Who Didn't Know the 'Me' Before Chronic Fatigue

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Dear Friend,

I’m writing you this because our friendship our has grown into something beautiful over the past few years, and I’m also writing this because friends should be honest with each other. And if I’m really honest, I’d have to tell you that there are two things I have been dying to tell you…

The first is that I wasn’t always like this. If you knew how often I have I wanted to say that, you’d think me strange. I want to tell you that I looked different, maybe more youthful, certainly more athletic. I had interests. I went out in the evening. I spent more time with friends and held a full-time job. I liked dancing and running and biking and going out on the town, but most of all, I felt different. I was happier, more energetic, sillier, more fun. I saw brighter futures, potential and opportunity. I was lighter and busier and just more. In fact sometimes I’m so desperate to tell you this that I want to scream it out loud. I wasn’t always like this…

But then I want to say — what I really want to say — is simply… thank you.

Thank you because you never demanded this explanation of me. So often I see myself as two people — the person before this illness and the person after it. I know it’s silly and despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I can’t help sometimes but think that my old friends stuck by the “new me” out of some sense of loyalty or duty. But for you, there is no “new me” or “old me” or anything else. There is just “me” – good enough as I am to find an awesome friend like you! You see, the greatest struggle with this illness outside of the everyday physical stuff is believing that, in spite of everything I have lost, I am still enough. And the knowledge that the me-after-chronic-fatigue is enough to befriend your awesome-ass is incredibly affirming, more than you know. So, thank you for that.

You know, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to see myself outside the parameters of “before” and “after” this illness or if I’ll ever really let go of the notion that I was somehow “more” of person before chronic fatigue wreaked havoc on my life. But on days when thoughts like that get me down, I will try to see myself through your eyes.

Lots of love,


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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: February 6, 2017
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