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15 Truths About Your Chronically Ill Friend Who Just Texted 'I Can't Go'

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It’s a text most people with chronic health challenges have sent at some point — the text that says “I’m sorry, I can’t go” when they’re invited to hang out with friends. Maybe you had a sudden flare-up of symptoms, or aren’t feeling as well as you thought you would when you made the plans. It can be a heartbreaking text to send (after all, it’s not like you don’t want to go). And it’s not easy to convey over text how much you wanted to go and how much you still want to be a part of your friends’ lives.

So we asked our Mighty community with chronic illness to share what they wish their friends knew when they send them an “I can’t go” text. If you’re reading this because you have a friend with chronic health challenges, know that your friend’s decision not to go likely didn’t come easy, and your compassion will go a long way.

Here’s what our community told us:

1. “The text that takes them two seconds to read took me 20 minutes to send because I was frustrated with my own body and inability to make it out to see them. I want more than anything to be well enough to keep the plans I make.”

2. “I hope my best friends know that I appreciate them more than anything in the world for all those times that they offered to come over to my house, brought some food and/or treats for us to enjoy while sitting together, and proved their friendship, love and loyalty. I will never forget it.”

3. “I wouldn’t cancel if it wasn’t the best for both of us. I had to learn that the hard way rushing from one appointment to another just because I couldn’t say no. I was constantly exhausted, stopped eating altogether and I could see that the people around me couldn’t enjoy the time spent together as much as they wanted to either. I’d rather cancel and meet up on a day where we can enjoy ourselves 100 percent than meet up and be miserable.”

4.I wish they knew I have worked myself into a full blown panic attack for an hour worrying about how I’ll tell them I’m in way too much pain to even try to get in my truck and drive the ~10 miles to their house/our old neighborhood to hang out or go out.”

5. “I wish they could understand that my life is now about choices. Different choices! If I do this, how many days will I be down? If I do that how many day will I be down? What is worth being down for?”

6. “I have taken into consideration: what I have to bring with me, what mobility aid, the terrain, if there was seating available, if there was food and drink easily available or if I needed to bring some, if I could carry the pack, if I needed to bring changes of clothes, if I could have an accident, if I had a new procedure and if I was used to taking care of it or if I was competent using it, if I could use my mobility device easily, temperatures, and more. Being someone with a chronic illness, there are so many challenges that we have to take into consideration that ‘normal’ folks don’t.”

7. “I have to build up the courage and force myself to press that ‘send’ button because I feel so guilty (and like a burden) for letting them down once again… then I just lay there with my phone on my chest, eyes closed and ignore it (until I feel guilty again) when I hear that I have a response because I am too embarrassed by my body’s rebellion to read the reply. When I apologize profusely, I truly mean it.”

8. “The absolute guilt I have for normally being the one to make those plans two hours before because I was feeling good, only to have my body all the sudden not want to cooperate. It’s not I don’t like you or I’m trying to avoid you, I truly feel sick. And the guilt hurts as much as my body.”

9. “To please invite me next time anyway. Please keep inviting me every time! Loneliness is one of the worst and deepest emotions my disease has ever made me feel. Don’t leave me behind, never forget about me.”

10. “I wish they knew that I wasn’t just making excuses and that I’m not avoiding them. I wish they knew that I don’t have to energy to be out in the real world all the time or to even be social all the time.”

11. “I wish my friends knew when I finally send the text letting them know that I can’t go out that I did everything in my power to make our plans happen. I tried to convince my fatigued body and my anxiety-riddled mind that I could handle it. I do want to spend time with you. I’m not blowing you off. I was super psyched for our plans and super disappointed when reality came knocking on my door.”

12. “They’ve never actually seen me at my worst. They have no idea how much pain I’m in, how fatigued I am, how horrible I feel and look. They have no idea how much I hate canceling plans at the last moment and they have no idea that their small comment of ‘You always ditch me’ just ripped me apart inside.”

13. “Although I can’t go out with them, simply coming over to sit with me may be a better option if preparing to go out hasn’t already worn me out.”

14. “When I say that I am not feeling well, it’s the truth. I don’t say it for nothing. It’s easier to say I’m not feeling well than to explain what is really going on, and how I really feel. Or when I injure myself, it takes my body longer to heal than others. I’m not ‘milking’ it.”

15. “I don’t owe them an explanation. If they’re truly a ‘friend,’ they’ll understand. Period.”

Originally published: April 13, 2017
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