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Fighting the Loneliness of a Chronic Illness

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Multiple sclerosis makes me feel lonely. It makes me feel a lot of things, but loneliness is the saddest. It’s a cold hearted disease that doesn’t care that it has barged in and tried to take over my life.

This loneliness is a horrible, hollow emptiness inside of me. It doesn’t care that I have friends who love and care for me, and do so much for me. The loneliness is still there. I can feel lonely in a crowd. I’ve been so lonely I’ve actually Googled to see if isolation is a symptom of MS. My MS is a rare type, and just about everything else is a symptom, so it seemed reasonable.

I often feel that no one can understand me. The rareness of my malignant MS doesn’t help that. There are times I feel that my amazingly supportive family and friends are too busy to deal with me. It’s not fair to them. They have lives to lead, but it’s not fair to me either. This disease of mine is chronic. It’s with me for the long haul.

MS is known as a snowflake disease — no two people have the same symptoms. Even in support groups and amongst spoonie friends there can be very different symptoms of the same disease. This can be scary and isolating.

My tips to help feelings of loneliness are:

1. Realize that loneliness is a feeling, not a fact. This helps me to get on through my feelings and helps me realize that people do love me.

2. Reach out to supportive people. Even if that’s sometimes isolating, being around loving people can help.

3. Help someone else. It’s good for everyone involved. A win-win!

4. Don’t expect perfection from yourself or anyone else. Sometimes people are just going to be too busy, or you’re just going to feel lonely. Accepting existing feelings can speed up recovery from lonely feelings.

Also remember that chronic illness is one of life’s biggest teachers. It will quickly show who is a true friend. It will just as quickly teach us that everything is not worth major effort. Battles must be picked carefully. The chosen battles must be given our all. We must make ourselves top priority.

Originally published: September 23, 2016
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