Can You Heal Through Friendship?
I was recently talking with a fellow chronic illness warrior about what she’s doing to manage her health. We talked food. We talked exercise. But what she shared next surprised me. “I track the connections I make in a week,” she said. It sounded like she was talking about networking in business, but she was talking about the human connections that she gets in a week.
Chronic illness can be isolating
Like many of us in the endo community can relate, chronic illness can be isolating at times. Who feels like being social when you’re doubled over in pain? Who feels like going out when your endo belly won’t fit in any of your clothes? Who feels like going out for a girl’s night out or date night when you’re doubled up with a tampon and a pad?
All of this coupled with living in a pandemic with so much social distancing, we can quickly find ourselves interacting with less than a handful of people a week.
Connection is critical
There’s a lot of research that connects social isolation and loneliness with negative health effects. And my friend that prompted this conversation had been feeling the direct effects of it.
So, she decided just like she tracks her food and her exercise, she was going to track the connections she makes throughout a given week. She became so much more intentional with proactively reaching out to friends and even scheduling calls.
As a chronic illness warrior, she didn’t always have the energy or the desire to reach out, but she looked at as part of her health practices. It was just as important to her as her vitamins... probably even more so!
Tips for staying connected
One of the most creative ways she connected was scheduling a call with a friend during which they listened to a guided meditation together. What a brilliant idea! You’re staying connected with a friend and keeping each other accountable for a meditation practice.
It’s prompted me to look at my own life. I consider myself an introvert, so I try to convince myself that I just like alone time, but my health needs connection. It’s a balance; An extreme of one or the other doesn’t work, right?
In my ventures to follow in her footsteps, I really like connecting with friends through a voice messaging app like Voxer or WhatsApp.
These apps serve more as a walkie-talkie concept. I can still talk as if I’m in a conversation, but it’s sent to my friend and she can respond with a voice message when it’s convenient for her. I don’t feel the pressure to answer a call if I’m not feeling well, we can each respond when it works best for us, but we still get the advantage of hearing one another’s voices.
How are you staying connected with friends and family while living with a chronic illness, in the midst of a pandemic? If you’re reading this, you’re certainly getting to connect with all of us here in the online endo community!
Have you ever experienced any of the following symptoms?