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To Those I've Had to Cancel On Because of a Flare-Up

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“I have to cancel.”

Those four words can make anyone upset. And it only makes it worse when you have absolutely no control over your plans. I’ve said this statement many, many times over the course of my dysautonomia journey and it never gets easier. I feel the tension of others when I have to cancel, and it makes me feel all the more guilty, like it’s my fault for being so physically (or mentally) ill even though I have no control over my sickness. Healthy people do not understand, and sometimes, neither do I. This passage should hopefully clear up the confusion as to why I sometimes have to cancel our plans.

I am sick. I have an invisible chronic illness that impacts every aspect of my life – from showering, to eating, to being social, to even sitting up typing this. Everything I do digs into my energy reserves, emptying out every spoon I have for the day. Even when we’re hanging out you may notice me seemingly feeling energized and outgoing, but what you don’t see is the brain fog and fatigue I’m trying so desperately hard to fight before I pass out. You don’t see the palpitations I’m having just by standing in line somewhere. Don’t search for something to validate my excuse for scrapping our plans. People with chronic illnesses use up so much energy just by existing.

Please, don’t think I’m flaking out on you. It’s not that I don’t want to hang out today, it’s because I can’t due to a killer flare-up. In the past I’ve pushed myself beyond my limits only to severely relapse from doing so much with friends and family. I’ve learned I must put my health first, even if I don’t want to. I’d do anything to be able to hang out with you like any other able-bodied person would. I know you’re upset, but I promise I’m twice as upset for cancelling. This doesn’t mean I want you to stop inviting me places, so please don’t. When I feel up to it, I will go out with you. Just wait on me. Please.

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Originally published: November 9, 2016
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