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Introverted… And Chronically Ill

I’ve always been more introverted than extroverted. 

I’ve never tried to have a large group of friends or spend all my time surrounded by people.

Maybe moving so much as a kid has that effect, maybe not.

It was easier in high school, back before my pain got so far beyond manageable. People always joked that people in high school were friends with other people because they were constantly with them.

“Friends by Association” 

But that’s really all it was.

Sure, I was close with a lot of people. Some people longer than others.

Sure, I talked to everyone.

Sure, I smiled.

Sure, I knew how to have fun.

I mean, I was spontaneous. I didn’t ever care what anyone else thought.

But, it was simply because of the association forced upon us by the schools we attended.

I mean, we’d meet someone new who had half of something in common with us and we’d instantly become friends.

Fast-forward and the only difference in my life is my condition.

Which, this introverted part of my personality, probably makes my condition easier on me and harder on those who are in my life.

People think its a problem that I don’t want to make friends.

I don’t want to “reconnect” with people I knew in high school… are you kidding me? There isn’t anything left that we have in common.

Awkwardly smiling over a cup of coffee because we run out of things to talk about in under an hour isn’t how I want to spend my good days.

Day in and day out, I’m made out to be the bad guy. Whether its someone I know or some random person on the internet mad I don’t want to get to know them.

I guess I just don’t understand why it’s so hard for other people to understand that I’m just not interested. I’m not interested in your life and I’m not interested in sharing mine. Because sharing mine, means sharing this illness. It means talking about something you won’t understand. It means being belittled by just about everyone with how I’m living my life wrong. How I just need to try this or that or change how I’m approaching something. How my condition is a burden to you because there’s no way you can help.

Did I ask for your help? No, I’m sure my insurance doesn’t cover your medically unsound advice.

So, its hard.

I used to be really great at pretending to be a people person. Pretending to enjoy the daily interactions with people who can’t hold an actual conversation.

Yet, now. I don’t have to pretend because it’s a lot easier to not associate with a large amount of people simply because I’m sick.

But, I read so often of the struggles of isolation and the lost friendships that occur with people who are chronically ill or struggling with mental health related issues.

But I can’t relate to that. I mean yeah, I’ve lost touch with plenty of people. But I moved across the state after I graduated and then across the country shortly after… People naturally drift apart. This idea that you were friends with people simply because you were forced into the same classes isn’t false.

I’ve lost touch with family, but I’ve never had a big loving family that spent time together or any of that. I’m just another black sheep in my family. College drop out. Doesn’t have a boyfriend. Doesn’t go to church. Bad attitude.

Keeping to myself isn’t new to me. Chronic conditions usually force introversion onto people, but its the one symptom I don’t mind.

So unless you want to talk about the mysteries of the world, conspiracy theories, and life at weird hours of the night when I suddenly feel human enough to do so, stop shaming me for being the same person I’ve always been.

So maybe being chronically ill and introverted allows me to enjoy the solitude rather than suffer from the isolation.

A.

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