A woman relaxing in a bath tub as she texts people

Tips on Keeping Up With Replies With a Chronic Illness

I wrote an article a while back about my struggles with responding to friends’ messages - one of the many consequences of living with a chronic illness. It probably isn’t the most pressing issue when it comes to managing life with AS, but as I have seen from the response to the article, it is certainly a common one.

After some research and plenty of trial and error, I have come up with ways to improve this situation and thought I’d share.

Talk to your friends

The first step is to be open and honest with your friends and family. Explain that this is something you struggle with. I know this can sound a bit daunting, but there are ways of making it easier.

For example, if somebody sends you a message that you aren’t ready to reply to, send back a quick message telling them you aren’t in the right mind to send a proper message quite yet, but will get back to them when you are. I have found that this kind of "heads up" message has gone down well with most people. They have certainly preferred it to my usual routine of seemingly ignoring them for a while.

You can even type a template message like this in your notes and copy and paste it into conversations with people when you need to. Although it may be a good idea to reword this message every now and again so that you don’t look like a robot with the same automated reply every time!

Also, if you want to provide a detailed breakdown of an explanation of the reasons why you struggle with replies but are too brain fogged to break it down, please feel free to share the link to my previous article (I promise this isn’t my attempt at free promotion!).

Communicate comfortably

We all have our individual preferences when it comes to communicating. Whether you are a fan of phone calls, a voice note advocate, or enjoy a good old-fashioned type, use whatever method is easiest for you to connect with people. Thanks to chronic illness, we already have enough struggles in our lives, so it makes sense to try and make our social lives as painless as possible!

On the flip side of that, do let people know if their method of communicating makes things harder for you too.

Personally, I struggle the most when people send me long voice notes. Brain fog loves sneaking up every time I play one and I end up having to continuously pause and rewind them to remember what has been said. I have now informed the long voice note culprits in my life that I’m unable to concentrate on the podcasts they send me & requested they keep in contact in a way I’m more comfortable with.

Make a note

As there are a lot of things in life I have trouble remembering to do, I have downloaded a to-do list app on my phone. It allows me to split tasks into categories like household chores, health and medical related tasks etc. I also have a section for general everyday tasks, one of which is replying to people. I actually don’t ever tick it off as completed just so it is there as a constant reminder whenever I check on what I still need to do.

Every day, I try to set aside some time to reply to everyone who has messaged me. Sometimes this can be a little too much for me, so I split it into instalments.

After some experimenting, I have discovered the optimum times to do this. One of these is when I am exercising. My arthritis filled body needs a bit more rest time in between sets to recover than the average person. So, I make use of these gaps where my body is feeling a bit more alert, to message people back. I also find that it works well when I am on public transport or in the bath as I’m not distracted by other things. I hope any friends reading aren’t too creeped out that my last message to them was sent whilst I was all naked and soapy in the tub!

Have you found any ways to overcome the obstacles that chronic illness brings to make replying to people more difficult? Let me know what they are in the comments below.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AxialSpondyloarthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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