Chronic Illness and Relationships – Part 2

I shared my experience and an interview with Dave about how he is coping with myself being sick, but I wanted to learn more, share more. Relationships aren’t just between you and your significant other, they are also about friendships and family. 

 

I wanted to learn about statistics in how many relationships stay together, what is the main downfall if they don’t, how families can be effected, and friendships. I am sure a lot of you that are effected by chronic illness have a million stories to tell, and feel free to share! 🙂 

 

Significant others. I could not believe the rate of failure among these relationships. It made me want to call Dave up and tell him I love him, but he would probably call me crazy and laugh at me. LOL. But that’s Dave. 

 

Science shows that over 75% of marriages end in divorce when one is suffering from a chronic illness. Over seventy five percent! That is mind boggling to me. What ever happened to that “in sickness and in health” part of the vows? Well, there are a lot of reasons for marriages and relationships to fail when one is plagued by a chronic illness. 

 

Some but not all reasons for this being: 

 

The healthy one in the relationship might be feeling unappreciated or unloved themselves, because the appreciation, love and affection that was once given might no longer be there, even if you want to do be, sometimes it just doesn’t happen that way. Don’t forget to let them know you appreciate what they do and that you do love them, even if you can’t show it anymore.

 

Lack of intimacy. It happens. The last thing on your mind when you are sick is gettin’ down and dirty… or whatever the kids are calling it these days. Sometimes this is just too much for the other spouse to handle, leading them to stray, or want out of the relationship. 

 

Another reason for failure in marriages is the lack of communication. It is hard to share all your feelings, whether you are the one that is sick or the one that isn’t… there is a ton of feelings. Share these feelings and talk openly with your significant other. Sometimes the build up can lead to many arguments.

 

Misunderstanding. This one is so unfortunate to hear, and it can happen with every type of relationship you have. Especially with an invisible illness. Just because you look good on the outside does not by any means reflect how you feel. You would think your loved ones would listen, be understanding of what you are capable of, but sometimes these people end up hurting you the most because they minimalize your situation.  

 

Lastly, sometimes the one on the other end can just get burnt out. That person is suffering from the illness right beside you and they are greatly effected. Taking care of someone with a chronic illness is a full-time job within itself. Taking over all the household duties, the finances and stress can just be overwhelming. Sometimes people just aren’t cut out for it, unfortunately. They hold on to how things were and just can’t get past that.  And it leads to them walking away from it all. 

 

While finding information about relationships and chronic illness, I also found that one of the main reasons for split ups were when parents were dealing with a chronically ill child, some reasons being that each individual parent has their belief on how their child should be raised and that coping and dealing with a sick child put too much stress on the relationship. Just an interesting tidbit. 

 

There are a ton of pressures that having a long term illness can create on your families. I have been fortunate and have had the help and support I need, but some others aren’t as lucky. Some challenges that are particularly faced among families can be: misunderstanding what you are going through, which most of the time is minimalizing your situation or thinking you are some how exaggerating, inability or unwillingness to help with financial costs, sibling rivalries, among many other possible scenarios. 

 

Sometimes, even though these are suppose to be the most supportive people in your life, it can be too much for them as well and they can also start to dwindle out of your life. Research shows that most families that do not end up sticking together are generally those who do not have the resources they need, are facing additional crises, or already had a weak foundation to begin with. 

 

Friendship. I personally have found this to be one of the hardest life lessons. You learn who your true friends are when you are sick. If you have a debilitating illness, like myself, things can get rather lonely at times. It sucks tremendously to see everyone’s life continue on, while yours has completely stopped. 

 

People who you thought were closer with tend to disappear from your life. You learn that some people will not make an effort to see you, because it will be a night-in watching movies, not going out and doing things. They just don’t understand it, like many other types of relationships. Friends will throw out invites and because of the way you feel and knowing it is beyond what you are capable of, you decline. And the invitations start dwindling down. 

 

You begin to feel like you have to be proactive and make every single move in the friendship. But you know what? This is the hardest lesson because you need to surround yourself with love, support, and positivity. You shouldn’t have to chase so called “friends” down to get them to visit you or hear from them. People like this only cause you stress and make your situation worse. Being sick for so long, you eventually learn to not worry about the bullshit. These are not your true friends. And you don’t need them. Another blog post on handling negative relationships in the future? I think so!

 

In my personal experience, I “had”, I guess you could say, a friend that I had that I thought I was much closer to, as I have been more than a great friend to her, and would have and have many times before dropped everything to help her out, has visited me a whopping two times in the past year while I have been hanging out with my good friend, the couch. Sadly, she actually worked in my small town, and could have easily stopped by even for a quick hello, to show some support and caringness, but never did. 

 

I believe at heart her first visit, within my first month of treatment, she just stopped by to see if I was exaggerating about what this disease was doing to me. She did however, on her second visit, stop by to ask me for money. Ask me for money?

 

 I didn’t have much of any, as many of you know especially having Lyme, you are broke. Many things aren’t covered by insurance. Didn’t even have 10$ to give her, but I gave her what I had anyways. Because that is what I do. And when my town held the benefit for me, I messaged her to see if she was going to go. I never got a response. And she is one of those people that I have personally written off. I will be kind if she ever steps it up, but I honestly could give a rat’s ass if I never heard from her again. That is not a true friend. 

 

One of my good friends disappeared for a few months when I was sick, other than a few texts here and there. But no more visits. It hurt. A lot. Because I consider her to be one of the closest people in my life. I finally called her out on it. And it wasn’t that she didn’t care, she just didn’t know what to do, how to act, and just couldn’t handle or sort her feelings out about seeing her friend sick. She finally discussed things with me and told me she really did care, she was just feeling overwhelmed seeing me like that.

 

Since our long conversation things have been much different and has since then stepped it up showing that she is caring and supportive ever since. The way I know she is. She has had many couch dates with me and has even helped me with household chores. We gossip again, fill each other in with what is going on in our lives, and it is great that things feel “normal” again… even though we aren’t going out and doing things we use to, but I know she is there and still cares.

 

Not every situation was like that though. I have had so many people come out of the woodwork and show their support and care, and it means a lot to me. I have had some friends that have been there for me, by my side, the entire time from day one. Always checking up on me and showing they think about me, seeing what they can do to help, even if it was something so simple like washing my hair, showing their love and support, and not treating me any different than before. They know who they are 🙂 And I love them for it. 

 

For anyone dealing with chronic illness, whether you are sick, or your loved one is, there are plenty of outlets to try to get what you need off your chest, as sometimes it can be extremely difficult. There are forums for those who are sick and for those who are caring for a loved o, many of which online, which is GREAT for those who also spend much of their time on the couch. This can be a great way to vent. You can also find support groups in your area, or seek the help from a counselor. Do know that you are never alone in this journey. 

 

🙂 Happy Saturday!

 

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/facing_crisis/chronic_illness.aspx,http://www.igliving.com/BlogEngine/post/10-Ways-to-Care-for-Your-Marriage-When-You-Have-a-Chronic-Illness.aspxhttp://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/chronic-illness-seven-relationship-tips?page=3, http://www.livingwithlymedisease.org, http://www2.uwstout.edu/content/lib/thesis/2009/2009thompsonj.pdf

8 thoughts on “Chronic Illness and Relationships – Part 2

  1. Sometimes the relationship thing sucks. For me just making friends has been the biggest problem, since I’ve been sick since 10. I get the isolation and loneliness. I can honestly say I’ve gotten more friends in the past year since getting diagnosed than I’ve had my entire life. Some of us care very much for each other.

    • Yes it can Dwayne! Being sick effects every aspect of your life. Although I have most likely contracted Lyme when I was around 3 or 4, other than a few quirks I didn’t really have full on symptoms until my early 20’s, so I never had the issue of friendship or things changing since I have been sick. Being a kid and feeling lonely and “different” must have been extremely challenging.

      It is wonderful that you have had people support you since diagnoses. I have had so much support from my community, with the exception of a few bad eggs, but I suppose that is life. It is great to have a support system and outlets to share our experiences as although different, many of us are the same in a lot of ways.

  2. Your posts are always so very informative. I would have never thought about looking into these stats myself, but I can totally relate. When I was first sick, before we knew what it was, it was a HUGE strain on our marriage. Once I was diagnosed and we started doing our research, my hubby turned into a marshmallow and has been a tremendous support ever since! He’s on the Lyme bandwagon full-throttle baby! He’s like a Lyme disease preacher now LOL

    Anyway, just missed you by a day in DC. Was there on Thursday. Maybe we’ll bump into each other in the waiting room someday 🙂

    Becca

    • Ahhh! Yes I did just miss you. I have to go back the end of October. At least it was 6 weeks this time instead of 4.

      I am so glad that your husband and you are doing good. I love to hear positive stories about how it brought people closer together! Yay!

    • Ugh I am so sorry. I suppose you can’t force people to listen but I would recommend them to watch “Under Our Skin”. It is a very informative film and gives people a better understanding about chronic Lyme. Best wishes to you.

  3. I am in year 7 of sickness and just over one year diagnosed with lyme. i don’t know how it happened but I have more really wonderful friends now than i did before! It is true that most of my old friends dropped out of sight and that was really hard to bear but somehow things turned around. I can’t go out much and my friends come to see me. I feel so blessed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s