Relationships are challenging when you’re chronically ill. The catch 22 is that relationships are so important to your well-being, especially when you have an illness like fibromyalgia. Some evidence suggests isolation and lack of meaningful relationships contribute to the onset and progression of the disease. As if finding quality relationships generally isn’t hard enough, feeling ill, tired and unable to engage in activities makes it hard to form new and maintain existing connections.
The Age of Digital Connection
As if we didn’t have it hard enough we are all now living in the age of digital connection. Society is stricken with the social plague of FOMO and a sad face emoji has replaced a heartfelt chat with a friend. The advent and overuse of social media has made it so easy to treat people as casual accessories to your life. With less face-to-face time there’s no foundation of investment and the comments and likes that now serve as quality time together are even more shallow with nothing behind it. This new culture is particularly hard on people who need meaningful connection the most, including the chronically ill.
Changing for the Worst
Not only is communicating digitally unfulfilling, social media has changed the way people behave. Maintaining a social media account is very often focused on yourself. Your thoughts, your pictures, your goings on. Some people have gotten stuck in this type of thinking and even if you are lucky enough to be messaging in back and forth conversation, talking on the phone or actually meeting in person, people often find any way to move the conversation back to themselves. You end up talking at each other and not with each other. Physical embodiments of your social media accounts. No one’s needs are really met.
It’s Even Harder On Us
For those of us with fibromyalgia a meaningful chat can mean the difference between a horrible day and a great day. A friend helping you out or enabling you to go out and share a fun activity together is everything. We look forward to and count on these things. Breaking plans can impact the course of our day or longer. We are also not able to spring in action for last minute plans because someone didn’t have anything else going on or waited until the last minute in case something better came up. Going out takes planning and getting ready is taxing. We may plan our days or week around it. We may be compelled to push ourselves to join a last minute invitation because we need the interaction so much, but we will probably pay for it the next day or longer.
Not Suited for these Times
Humans live in a society. We are conscious of others’ existence and must interact and work together to make society function. Human life was not designed to be lived individualistically. We need each other. We are all a happier and healthier people when we have genuine and meaningful connection. Being friends with a Chargie can require flexibility, patience and understanding. Our experiences however, it make us friends with depth, friends who can listen actively, relate to your struggles and have a blast just being able to enjoy the simple things in life. Unfortunately, social media profoundly inhibits the ability for us to connect with others in this meaningful way.
Rebecca is a free spirit, idealist and dreamer who lives resiliently with fibromyalgia. She lives for sunny days when she feels well enough to make it to the lake.