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15 Hidden Messages in Texts From People With Chronic Illness

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When you have a chronic illness, there’s a lot that often goes unsaid. With “invisible” symptoms and friends who may not understand the impact your condition has on your life, you may not always feel able to express what’s really going on with you. And if you’re responding to a text, you may feel even more obligated to give a “short and sweet” response that simplifies what you’re feeling.

We asked our Mighty community to share a text they’ve sent, as well as the “hidden message” they didn’t say. If you’ve gotten a message like this from a friend dealing with a chronic illness, know that they’re likely dealing with so much more that’s left unsaid. A supportive response will go a long way.

Here’s what the community told us: 


text message that says we should get together soon, i miss you

“In reality, it means my depression is pulling me under and I’m reaching for a life raft.”


text that says im swamped with homework. i cant come

“The fact that I have been fighting a migraine and brain fog for four days straight has put me behind on my homework. I’m really stressed because I have an essay due in less than 48 hours and I haven’t been able to start it. I’m pressured to make school my top priority (even above taking care of my health) so I have to miss out on yet another social outing as I try to juggle both.”


text that says sorry my phone has not been working properly

“This is my response to texts or phone calls that I have ignored for days because I was too tired or in too much pain to talk to anyone.”


texts that say would you like to go out this weekend? and that sounds fun i'll try to make it

“Sometimes I will respond ‘I’ll try’ in response to an invite even when I know I can’t make it because I really do want to be there. I hang on to the hope I’ll feel better and I’ll be able to go. I don’t want my friends to give up on me.”


text that says sorry i can't make it tonight, swamped with work. see you soon

“What I really meant was – I can’t actually drive because my hands don’t work and I’m so physically tired I’ve been putting off going to bathroom for as long as possible as I haven’t got the energy to climb the stairs to the bathroom, and when I do go up, I’m staying up. I know I keep making excuses but please, please don’t stop inviting me.”


text that says ill be ok

“Really means I’m scared that this will never go away and the pain feels like it won’t ever end. I just want someone to hold me and tell me I’ll be OK and no matter what I will always have my friends and family.”


text that says no worries, it's all good

“What I wish I could say is: no, it’s not fine. I needed you and you were MIA. I am always there for you, no matter how crappy I feel… I’m not fine, I’m mad, disappointed and hurt.”


text that says online shopping is the best

“[I sent this] to my friend who had ordered a new outfit online. I actually mean groceries as I can’t cope with tiredness, brain fog and pain enough to also concentrate on what we need indoors and can just do it when the insomnia hits.”


text that says my alarm has been going off since 9 but i dont want to get up

“What it really meant was that I never wake up feeling rested and I really want to stay in bed and sleep all day even though it wouldn’t make a difference if I slept more.”


text that says im just in a grumpy mood

“In reality I’m dealing with the third day of a flare, haven’t slept much and feel depressed about my body once again fighting me.”


text that says i need an extension on my paper because of asthma

“What I meant to say is I haven’t been able to breathe properly in about a week, and the medications are not helping to control it very well. I haven’t slept properly in a month, and each cough goes straight to my head and causes lots of pain. I feel dizzy, and lightheaded. It hurts too much to work on the computer, and it hurts too much to eat, and it hurts too much to do anything but rest.”


text that says my rsd is kicking me, so i could use a little prayer, thanks

“In response to someone who asked me if I needed anything. Which means I haven’t showered or gotten out of bed in three days… even though I’ve been in bed I’ve only had eight hours of sleep in those three days. I’m wore out.”


text that says im running late, be there soon

“In reality I haven’t left the house yet because I’ve been putting a dislocation back, trying to keep painkillers down and calming my anxiety about having to repeat the process in public.”


text that says ive been better but also worse

“Trying to hide pain from hubby as I always feel like a Debbie downer; there always seems to be some issue with several chronic illnesses.”


text that says im finally starting to perk up

“I can finally go to the bathroom without mobility aides, but I’m still too sick to even sit up for 30 minutes, much less leave my house for the first time in days.”

15 Hidden Messages in Texts From People With Chronic Illness
Originally published: February 21, 2017
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