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Why Do I Feel the Need to Apologize for My Chronic Illness?

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I apologize for my chronic illness too much (sorry).

I have fibromyalgia. I have always had it, even though I didn’t know the name of it until I was in my 20s. You’d think by now I would be used to its effects and the ways it can limit my abilities to do stuff. I feel like I am. So why do I find myself so often feeling guilty or apologizing?

I apologize for the housework I can’t do. I apologize that I don’t have a job. I apologize when I need to rest. I apologize that I can’t walk very far. I apologize that I can’t be spontaneous. I apologize for needing to change plans. And those are just the first ones that come to mind. So I ask again, why?

Is it because I feel like a burden if I need help or can’t help others? Maybe it’s a direct result of being doubted by the medical profession for so many years. Perhaps it’s connected to having to fight for disability benefits and try to prove my invisible illness to strangers who mostly don’t believe me. Is it because I know it affects my loved ones too? Even if just by worrying them. Or is it because as a woman, I have been conditioned by society to feel guilt, insecurity and a responsibility to make everyone around us feel happy, cared for and looked after? I’m sure The Mighty’s male-identifying community could confirm whether it’s the same for them or not.

I’m aware that I’ve asked a lot of questions and not given any concrete answers. Sorry about that. Oops, not again! But I want to reassure any of you who also struggle with guilt and apologizing unnecessarily that I understand the feeling. Please try to remember, you don’t need to feel that way. You are 100 percent enough.

Getty image by kwasny221.

Originally published: November 16, 2019
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