i feel left out because of my chronic illness

dear heather,

I have a chronic illness that isn’t visible from the outside. It seems like no one believes me when I say it hurts or I don’t feel good. I feel left out sometimes because of my illness and that I’m a drag on my friends. Sometimes they act like I’m annoying. What should I do to make them understand?

That sounds hard. As if feeling sick isn’t enough… Your frustration is certainly understandable; people with invisible illnesses commonly feel caught between wanting to feel “normal” and wanting to be understood.I’m not sure what to suggest without knowing more about your situation. But do you think your friends might be open to learning something about your illness? If you’ve never explained it–at least to your closest friends–they may be uncomfortable out of pure ignorance and unclear how to act when you mention your symptoms. A little bit of information (part science, part feelings) might go a long way toward putting everyone at ease.

On the other hand, if you mention your illness a lot, the reverse might be true. Some people in your place feel the need to apologize or explain all the time, when in fact their friends don’t mind slowing down or accommodating physical differences as long as they don’t keep hearing about the symptoms. References to sickness are very often mistaken for complaints.

However you decide to communicate with your friends about what’s going on, you might might want to check out some resources on the web about chronic illness, including sites geared to people with chronic fatigue syndrome, one of the most common illnesses of this type.

take care,

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