Chronic pain can be isolating

the sparks between us will (2)

This is a pretty obvious statement it seems to me. My psychologist said this exact thing though to me when I was chatting about a slight change I had made based on information I had read that helped people cope with chronic illness and improve mood. That is to increase social interaction. Well, my social interaction was just online. I was a complete hermit otherwise. I simply did not socialize. Pain made me reclusive.

It wasn’t always so. When I was younger, in my early 20s I had some good friends and pain I was coping with well. I could handle moderate social activities and enjoyed them, even with the consequences, as long as I moderated them. However, as soon as I began to work full time the migraines were far more frequent then and so I decreased the socializing. Still, this was fine. Had some people I enjoyed hanging out with, just not as often. They were not as close of friends. And if a friend happened to move, even a short distance away, that strained that friendship because of the extra energy it cost me to see them.

Then the migraines became daily and all I really could do was hold onto that job. And all those friends and acquaintances drifted away. Although with Facebook I do have contact with some now casually. And I did replace the lack with online friends and online interactions.

I became a hermit though. Well and truly. However, perhaps an easy thing for an introvert to do isn’t it? What does an introvert do when they are overtaxed? They retreat. They go to a quiet place and do something that rejuvenates them. The lack of social activities then just meant less energy expended and less pain. But also fewer people. Fewer interactions. Less enjoyment of conversation and socialization at a level even I could tolerate. So even if I wanted to socialize, no people left to do it with.

One of my first Somecards I made.. so damn true too

So yes I said to him chronic illness can be very isolating. We go to online support groups. Talk with other people with our illness in other ways. Interact with them. But nothing outside of our illness. No people to just be with, and have nothing to do with our illness. Just be with and around.

And as an introvert, I thought about this idea that Some social interaction is likely healthy for me. Might boost my mood and help with my coping. Might help my spouse too. And as an introvert, I thought….


But I told my psychologist that I had jumped on this idea of playing cards with new people we have met through my spouse’s workplace. We go to a friends house, with about five of us playing a card game. About every week or two weeks depending on peoples schedules. I jumped on it because it is a social activity I can do that doesn’t require me going out to a bar or someplace that often doesn’t work out so well for me. It is better for the brain. And lots of conversation and laughter. It is great fun. I figure we can connect with other friends as well in different ways. And have casual socialization that work. I don’t mind interacting with people in small groups in a nice environment. Works quite well really. And maybe it does boost mood. I don’t know. But it was one thing I had read that I thought would be healthy and good for us as a couple. I see my spouse thrive with people around him again and that makes me feel good.
It is difficult at times with a chronic illness. We always cancel things. Leave early for other things. People cannot count on us for things. But we like to go for coffee… something short and easy. Or go for lunch. Or have a few people over for tea. Because our lives get so small it is nice to work some of those things in there. We feel often like we have lost all connections to the world, except all the things we must do. So finding small simple ways we can socialize with the friends we have, maintain those friendships, I think has a lot of value.



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