Finding Others Who Get "It"

The first few years after being diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis I felt like an outsider. None of my friends or family members could understand how I felt physically or mentally. No matter how hard I tried to appear “normal” or live like there was nothing wrong with my body, this awful disease was always reminding me that I was different. Although I tried to explain my illness to my friends and family, it was impossible for them to fully understand my daily struggles and challenges.

Finding my chronic soulmates

I will never forget the day I first met my husband. Even though it took us four years to go on our first date, it was love at first sight for me. After we began dating, I realized that this guy was pretty special because he loved me even with all of my quirks.

Meeting others with the same or similar illnesses is much like that. These people not only understand what my life is like, they are living it too! My chronic friends don’t make me feel guilty for having to cancel or reschedule plans. They understand that the reason I haven’t answered the phone is because I can barely lift my head from my pillow or I am taking a nap. While I would never wish any of my chronic illnesses on anyone, I am thankful to know that I am not alone.

Learning to share

Until I made a few chronic friends, I failed miserably at explaining my pain and daily challenges to friends and family. One reason for this was because I didn’t understand the disease myself nor did I have anything to compare it to.

Conversations with my chronic buddies help each of us recognize similar activities or triggers that may ignite a flare. We share what has or hasn’t helped us. Sharing our trials helps us find solutions or methods we didn’t think about to combat our challenges.

Personally, the sharing aspect has gone beyond my chronic circle. Because I became comfortable talking to someone who understood what I lived with I later became comfortable having the same conversations with friends and family. This was partly due to the fact that I had learned to express how I was feeling and acknowledge that I was ill. It was also because I found better ways to reply when someone dismissed my condition.

My chronic pals are very special to me; they encourage and empower me to live the best I can despite having this wretched disease. Best of all, their friendship has given me the courage to share what my life is really like with others instead of pretending to be like everyone else.

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