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A Letter to Myself When I Cancel Plans Because of Chronic Illness

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Dear Annie,

I know you debated for half an hour over how to phrase the text, but essentially the message was “I’m sorry, I won’t be able to come today because I’m sick.” It’s not a new message, because this isn’t a new occurrence. Yes, it felt different because it was a new friend. It felt scarier — you’ve never told them about your chronic illness, so they have no context to understand why you had to cancel the plans that seemed fine yesterday.

It’s hard because it feels like your fault. After all, you’re the one who told your friend that you couldn’t do it. But it’s not your fault. Being sick is not your fault, and the symptoms that come with it are not your fault. This is not something you signed up for, or something you ever would have chosen.

I know that it feels like you’re letting people down. I’m sure your friends are sad, because like you, they were probably looking forward to today. And it never feels good to be the one to take away that opportunity. But it isn’t you who decided not to go, it’s your illness. There was no way you could physically go, and you did the responsible thing by letting your friends know that as soon as you could.

It’s OK to feel sad because of what you know you’ll miss out on. I know it’s so easy to imagine your friends having fun without you while you’re homesick. And I know you were really hoping today would be different. But you will have another chance.

I know it feels like you canceled because you aren’t strong enough to push through it and go anyway. But canceling on them is not a weakness. You push yourself all the time to do things that you need to do even when it feels like too much. It’s never easy to say no, but you need to let your body rest. It definitely doesn’t feel like it right now, but you are doing what you need to do. And hopefully, good friends will support you as you prioritize your health.

I know it’s hard, but try to let this go. Take today to rest, and do what you need to do in order to take care of yourself. Hopefully, you will feel better soon and be able to spend more time with your friends.

Getty image by Lizaveta5.

Originally published: September 16, 2021
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