Chronic Pain and Fatigue – Maintaining Relationships

Photo (c) Megan S, October, 2012
Photo (c) Megan S, October, 2012

I’ve found since being ill I don’t get to see my friends as much as I like. And I’ve begun to realise if I don’t start taking a more proactive approach I’m going to lose touch with people that are important to me.

Over the past 7 months I’ve had to decline multiple invitations to events because I physically couldn’t make it at the time or location the event was being held. I attempted to make it clear in my declines that I would love to be there but just couldn’t do it.

Just recently it was brought to my attention that there has been some miscommunication and several of my friends thought I just didn’t want to spend time with them. Luckily this time round E stepped in and has explained in detail what I’m dealing with and what I can and can’t do. The next event (a Christmas catch up) has been organised for a time (early afternoon not late evening) and location (somewhere relaxed without too much background distraction) that works well for me and I’ve gladly accepted the invitation.

This situation has made me realise the precarious nature of our relationships with others when we suddenly fall with a chronic illness.

Obviously some ‘friendships’ will fall to the wayside but those that are important you do need to make an effort to maintain no matter what side of the relationship you’re on.

If you are the one who is chronically ill, you need to be very open with those who are important to you and clearly communicate your limitations and desires. You also need to make an effort to keep communication flowing regularly, even if it’s just a text message. This communication should be about topics other than your health unless you are asked.

Those who have friends who are chronically ill should listen carefully to their friends needs and try to accommodate them when making plans. They should also try to maintain communication, if their friend is to sick to respond they still appreciate the thought of an email or message. Finally they should only ask how their friend is if they really want to know.

Overall, maintaining relationships is about both parties being open and communicating clearly with each other.

This is something I’m still working on but I’m hoping to get better at it as I go on.

Thank you to all my friends who have listened and adjusted plans occasionally so that I can join in and feel part of the group still.

Have you had difficulties maintaining relationships?

What do you do to maintain relationships with those closest to you?