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When Chronic Illness Means You Don't Fit Into Any Friendship Circles

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I’ve never really had that many friends, even when I was at school.

I had two very close friends that I grew up with, but by the time I was in my late teens and we had discovered boyfriends, we slowly grew apart.

Then when we got older into our early 20s, some moved away or started families. I stayed where I was, and struggled conceiving as well.

The friends that had babies started forming friendships with other mothers and families with children, and I got left behind. The friends that didn’t have children were still going out and partying until the wee small hours, but I didn’t have the energy to keep up with them. That left me between two worlds, neither of which I fit into.

How can you maintain friendships when you don’t fit into any friendship circles?

When I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease and hyperthyroidism in my early 20s I was in a long-term relationship, that I am still in. We have mutual friends, but they are predominantly his friends. If we broke up, his friends would side with him. Not me. Which would leave me again, alone.

I want to have my own set of friends, but I am finding it increasingly more difficult to relate to people. The older I get the more my anxiety kicks in. To the point where I can’t even go into a pub without my partner coming out to me to go in with me. I can’t walk into somewhere on my own.

When I am having a good couple of days and not having a “fibro flare” or “thyroid flare” I will sometimes agree to go out, but again I get very anxious about new situations. “Am I talking too much?” “Am I not talking enough?” “Am I boring?” “Are my friends bored with me?” All these thoughts go through my head when I’m out, and that causes my nerves to go into overdrive. In order to calm myself down, most of the time I will have a drink, but this causes other problems because I start to either get drunk too quickly or start to feel ill because my tablets react with the alcohol.

This then starts causing a whole host of other problems and people fall out with me because I have had too much too drink.

I’m lucky that I have a very supportive family and my partner also, but I do feel sometimes that if I didn’t have my illness, I would have friends of my own. Something that I don’t have anymore.

My anxiety prevents me from having the confidence to socialize properly.

My flare-ups mean I can’t keep up with my “mates” anymore. I’m too tired or in too much pain, or just generally under the weather to go out.

My illness has taken that away from me.

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Thinkstock photo by Ann Triling

Originally published: April 25, 2017
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