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No, I Don’t Talk About My Chronic Illness Too Much

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My chronic illness came out of thin air and body-slammed me to the ground, multiple times in quick succession. I was diagnosed just over a month ago, and in that time I’ve really found comfort and solace in talking to others on The Mighty. My favorite thing to do when I’m feeling down is to look at memes about my condition. It makes me laugh, as well as feel less alone, and less like my rare disease is just me.

I quickly discovered that my friends don’t find my memes quite as funny as I do, as many don’t make sense to someone who hasn’t experienced a chronic illness. And I as discovered a few days ago, I apparently shouldn’t talk about my chronic illness, because my friends won’t get it either. It happened when I was on FaceTime with a good friend of mine, and it was simply an off-hand comment made, kind of like a joke.

“All you ever talk about is your chronic illness, you know?”

What I wish I would have said was that I didn’t choose this. No one chooses this. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but it happened. So if that’s all I talk about, well, that’s because it’s my whole life right now. I would’ve said I’m doing the best I can with the cards I’ve been dealt. I’m sorry if that’s hard to hear, but I really care about and value our time together as friends and want that to continue.

But I didn’t. I laughed it off and kept talking. I stopped talking about myself because what else is there to talk about when all you do is drink water, sleep, pee, then do it all over again, adding the occasional doctor’s appointment in there.

There will always be people who don’t understand. But sometimes, those people you trust will be willing to learn. They will look up your condition, educate themselves, or ask questions. Maybe they’ll just bring you ice cream on bad days (honestly, that’s good enough for me). It doesn’t happen magically. It will take time and patience. But I know that my friend loves me, and a chronic illness won’t change that.

So when someone inevitably makes a comment about you talking about your chronic illness too much, take a deep breath, give yourself some time, and help them (and yourself) understand that you are doing the best you can. Because you are.

Getty image by AKA vectors.

Originally published: May 17, 2021
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