I think it should be fair to say that opting out of an event doesn’t mean that you won’t feel left out for not going. Sometimes, sure, you may really have not wanted to care and won’t care after, but other times there are extenuating circumstances that drive the decision. In this case it is my health that kept me from attending a friend’s birthday party, and even though I chose not to go it still leaves that bitter taste of being left out of the fun. Some may argue that it was my fault that I didn’t go when I could have but I would argue that I couldn’t have gone. Midway through the week I had a mystery celiac reaction (the kitchen had been particularly messy so the source is unknown), and spent Wednesday crippled in pain on the couch- unable to even walk to my bedroom. Now although the pain would be better by Saturday, the recovery wouldn’t be so I told my friend whose birthday it was that I wouldn’t be able to go on Thursday when I was starting to be able to function again.
I think one of the things that I wish was more diversely understood was the impact that making health related decisions has emotionally on an individual with chronic pain. When we say we can’t go, we don’t take it lightly. Some days facing the pain is not as bad as others, you wouldn’t know that there was anything wrong. Others, the idea doing simple tasks around the house can be daunting. For the most part I like to be realistic with my friends, because I honestly cannot always function and will often have to cancel last minute or leave early unexpectedly. Where I can I do like to give as much notice as possible, it will disappoint them that they won’t see me but I know they understand. Unfortunately, knowing they understand doesn’t make the guilt for not being able to control an illness go away. It doesn’t take away that twinge of unfairness when you can’t participate in things like everyone else. It doesn’t stop you from feeling like one day everyone will just get fed up with you and your unreliability.
I think that these emotions get underrated when we talk about the impact that chronic conditions can have on a person. At this point in an article I would give some insight or advice to help others like me. I’m sorry to say that I don’t know how to handle this one, but if you do, I’d love to hear it. Feeling like a burdensome disappointment is not anything I would wish on anyone, but it is a reality many of us face. If you ever meet someone who faces chronic pain syndromes or any debilitating health ailment, be compassionate and understanding– it is harder to live with than it looks.