Two women have a conversation. One has a thought bubble showing her watching television, while the other's bubble shows a lively concert.

The Struggle to Maintain Friendships with Chronic Fatigue

Building connections with others is one of the most special components of the human experience. Our connection, bonds, and memories with those who understand us is what makes life sparkle. Living with chronic fatigue and chronic pain can often create situations where we become isolated and lonely because everything we do costs us so much of our energy.

Despite this inherent desire to connect, sometimes we go weeks, even months without it because we have already spent so much of what little energy we have on prioritizing our health so we can tend to our responsibilities.

Communicating actually takes a lot of work

Lots of people believe that texting really doesn’t require all that much, or even a simple phone call, but they don’t see what goes on behind the scenes of a chronically fatigued individual. It’s not just the act of texting that requires work-—it’s the act of listening.

Personally with my chronic fatigue, it’s really challenging and sometimes even impossible to really get into a deep conversation about life because my brain starts to become overflowed with stimulation and information that it shuts down. I immediately feel like I have to lay down, close my eyes and rest. It makes it really difficult to be present with that person and give them the undivided attention they deserve.

I feel forced to choose between my physical well being and my sanity

The responsibilities of day-to-day life don’t stop just because we are unwell. Balancing finances, our physical health and our social lives can become incredibly overwhelming, which eventually leads to this balance tipping over. When this happens and I don’t see or talk to anyone for months on end, trying to keep what little balance I have left.

My mental health severely starts to decline but I’m left feeling like my hands are tied. Do I sacrifice the state of my health for a couple hours of one-on-one time with a friend and make my burnout worse? Sometimes, it just doesn’t seem like the best choice despite how sad I am because I can be burnt out for weeks on end afterwards. Having to choose is unfair.

It stops me from making more friends

There’s been so many times where I talk with a friend of a friend, or even a stranger, and I can feel the potential of a beautiful friendship. I almost feel guilty afterwards because I know that if I can’t even manage to catch up with the friends I have now, how would I be able to maintain a friendship with them? It almost doesn’t seem fair to kindle that friendship in the first place. I feel like I would be wasting their time or end up hurting their feelings.

My social life has disappeared

I appreciate everyone I have in my life and how supportive they are of my health circumstances and boundaries, but I dreadfully miss having a “normal” social life. I miss late night drives with a coffee in my hand, music vibrating through my body and a smile painted on my face. I miss feeling alive and present. Chronic fatigue has robbed me of the riches in connecting with like-minded, warm-hearted people.

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