Chronic Illness & Friendship: Seeing Through Invisible Illness

How to be sick in a healthy world

Photo credit: Dreamstime

Never are our relationships with our friends more essential — and more challenged — than when our lives have been transformed by illness.

Often the question people with invisible illness most dread hearing from a friend or acquaintance is “How are you?” This seemingly innocuous ritual of polite conversation can be fraught with complexity and emotion for chronic illness sufferers. We may long for the days when we could reply, “Fine thanks,” without a second thought; but when overwhelming pain, fatigue, or other symptoms render us vulnerable and disheartened, this simple response may feel like a lie.

Ailing Bodies, Wounded Hearts

In Sick And Tired Of Feeling Sick And Tired, Donoghue and Siegel point out, “where need is most pronounced, feelings are most intense.” Human beings are social creatures. Our sense of who we are and our place in the world is constantly being influenced and redefined by the nature and quality of our relationships with others. Especially at a time when chronic illness presents myriad threats to our identity and sense of self-worth, it is natural to look to others for support and validation. Never are our relationships with our friends more essential — and more challenged — than when our lives have been transformed by illness.

Two women hugging.
Photo credit: Adobe Stock

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Writer with ME/CFS and fibromyalgia helping others to survive and thrive with chronic illness. Lifelong learner, dog mom, therapist-to-be.

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Lisa Lorden Myers

Writer with ME/CFS and fibromyalgia helping others to survive and thrive with chronic illness. Lifelong learner, dog mom, therapist-to-be.