This blog is essentially about my journey with coping with arthritis, but life is not just about our arthritis (I have osteoarthritis), or about our other illnesses – in my case IBD (irritable bowel disease) and BPD (borderline personality disorder).
My life this week has been taking a personal turn, rather than medical, and though my joint pain has worsened, and I have finally got a new Arthritis Consultant who has been more pro-active, I have been struggling with depression and my interpersonal relationships.
My on-and-off partner “J”, as I shall call her here, finally decided it wasn’t working with us, so broke up with me on Valentine’s Day. And although, retrospectively, I see that it really was not working, my confidence still took a hit.
In my experience, people with chronic illnesses can encounter a struggle with interpersonal relationships. By nature we can seem more needy, even when it is not intentional. Many people can understand this, because they can understand what pain feels like, in all sorts of ways, even if they cannot sympathise properly with the continuous struggle with pain.
However, when it comes to it, others find it difficult to deal with our chronic issues, whether it’s the physical pain and needing support, or the emotional toll of seeing someone you care about in pain, and being unable to do anything about it.
Back to my personal journey. I am still struggling to actually believe and understand that I do have this disease, that over time, I will get gradually worse. I have seen journeys online, and through this amazing website and the Arthur’s Place Social group on Facebook, and it scares me to see those further along than me, to see where I could be if my body succumbs to this invisible monster.
It has put a massive strain on my relationship with J, who has been struggling with me having the same bowel disorder as her father. She could see how difficult it was for him and the inevitable path I would follow. Then the devastating news of severe osteoarthritis has pushed them to breaking point.
So she finally decided enough was enough for us, and although I can see it and understand it, what is almost earth-shattering for me is to lose yet another relationship due to illnesses beyond my control.
What makes things worse is my close friends and family, those others I’ve been with for many years, suddenly seem to get short with me, and irritated, as they fail to understand why I cannot do as many things as I used to, why I get tired and why I’m always in pain.
Even though I look perfectly fine on the outside, I feel like death on the inside and it takes tremendous effort to do things I used to find easy. I always feel I am not good enough as I constantly fail to meet expectations from those closer to me which can lead to arguments and loss of good friends and relationships.
Guilt over things we cannot control can be a big issue for those of us with chronic illnesses.
To be continued – Sez x
Meet Sez and other friendly folk on Arthur’s Place Social, our Facebook Group
(Any opinions expressed in Sez’s blog are not necessarily shared by Arthur’s Place. Nothing that you read in Sez’s blog constitutes medical advice.)