Why Do I Find It Easier to Talk About My Health Online?
There are a lot of reasons why it may be easier to open up on the internet about health struggles than it is in real life with family and friends.
It isn’t necessarily down to a lack of supportive family, or not having any friends who are sensitive to the situation. You can have the largest family support network, and an understanding circle of friends, and still hold back from sharing as much of your truth to them as you do online to relative strangers.
For me personally, it’s for three main reasons.
Guilt that knowing how much pain I’m truly in, or how much I’m struggling will cause them worry and pain.
Guilt about how that knowledge will affect them, and how bad it may make them feel that they can’t help me or make things better.
Guilt that trying to lessen my burden by ranting about the unfairness and struggles of my life is adding to their burden.
Fear that my friends won’t understand my chronic illness struggles.
Fear that they will become fed up with hearing me talk about my health.
Fear that they won’t recognize the massive effect my chronic illnesses have on my life every day.
Fear that I’ll become “that person.” The person about whom they all say, “She’s always so negative, going on about her illnesses all the time.”
Denial of the reality of my life. Because when I’m truly honest about how I’m feeling with those who know me well, the truth of my life hits me all over again. All the glaring realities that I manage to push aside and not think about day to day in an attempt to make my life, as it is, feel normal.
Denial of the reality of how abnormal and restricted my life really is. It all comes flooding back to mind and I am struck anew with the grief and frustration that so often comes along with chronic illness.
Why doesn’t the same thing happen when I share online?
These feelings don’t seem to strike as hard when I share things on the internet with other members of the chronic illness community.
Maybe because I know they’re not as emotionally invested in my life.
Maybe because I feel that they can all understand me in a way that family and friends who’ve never experienced chronic illness, however much they love me, never can.
Maybe because it’s a place where I feel I can give help and support to others, instead of always being the one receiving it.
So to all the members of this community, thank you for being here.
Thank you for sharing your truth and for listening to mine.
Getty image by Richard Drury.