I’ve found that having a chronic illness can be all consuming at times. First I was consumed with learning everything I could about Hashimoto’s. I scoured the internet looking for any information about the disease and what caused it. I looked to my expert circle of colleagues for more information as well as Dr. Google.
Then I was consumed on how I was going to cure it. I researched different diets, supplements and exercises that would help. I signed up for several online courses dedicated to finding my root cause and treating it. Reading other people’s experiences became my hobby.
Next I was consumed with implementing all the strategies to put my disease into remission. Finding the right doctor, doing lab tests and self care are hard work. It takes a lot of time to meditate, exercise, sleep, destress, take supplements on a schedule, grocery shop and cook whole foods from scratch. Trying to do all these things while having heavy brain fog and physical fatigue took even more time.
While implementing these strategies has definitely yielded some great results that I wouldn’t have achieved without being consumed with my health, it has been a bit lonely. Ok it’s been really lonely. Unless somebody has a chronic illness I don’t think they really appreciate all that somebody who does have one is going through. There is uncertainty about the future, mourning for the life that once was as well as the physical symptoms being experienced.
Healthy people don’t always get why I do all the things I do. I look healthy and am a high functioning professional so how bad could I really be? I’m not one who likes to talk about my illness unless I feel that somebody really gets it. I understand that people care about me and want to know how I am but when I get the glazed over look when I start explaining the real deal I tend to shut down. Over time I brush over how I’m really doing because I don’t have the energy to really go into it.
This is where the loneliness really comes in. I see friends and family living life, having energy to do the things I once took for granted. Simple things like meeting a friend for dinner or drinks or even coffee aren’t my preferred options because I can’t eat or drink like I used to. So much of socialization is built around eating and drinking.
Other socialization usually involves expending energy. Making a plan to go for a hike or even shopping may or may not be enjoyable depending on the kind of day I’m having. Sometimes even talking whether in person or on the phone is too much.
Without being able to hold up my end of socialization it’s hard to feel connected to other people. Connection is a two way street. I find that my phone doesn’t ring as often if I’m not making the effort to reach out. It’s hard not to feel forgotten but at the same time I realize that I’m not. It’s just that for now I may be in a different place and what I need is silence and rest. Thank U Hashimoto’s.
So how do I get out of the loneliness funk? Luckily I can’t stay alone too long as I have a great husband and 2 awesome kids who live with me. Even if I want to be alone at some point during the day I can’t be. I’ve also learned that the stories my brain tells me aren’t always reality. I’ve learned to observe my thoughts and call bullshit on the ones that I know aren’t really true. For instance, when I think that nobody cares I force myself to reach out to a friend and let them know I’m feeling disconnected. I’m always met with a good conversation and connection.
I have one friend who really gets it because she experiences it. She’s also on a recovery journey so we can talk about what’s working for each of us. Having a person who gets as excited as I do when about a good poop really helps to fight the loneliness.
Remembering that I’m on this journey because I’m learning lessons also helps. I wouldn’t have learned all that I have about autoimmunity if I didn’t have Hashimoto’s. Learning all that I have has not only helped me but my clients as well. Helping somebody else on their recovery journey definitely trumps the loneliness.
How do you deal with being lonely?