Most singletons will agree with me that a lot of us tend to become self-centered during our single years. If we don’t have children or family to care for we are the center of our own universe. It’s appallingly simple to fall into that particular habit.
Then-for some of us-you add chronic illness to the mix. Not only are we the center of our own universe but thinking about anything other than symptoms, scheduling meals, naps, doctor appointments, and medications takes a large part of our brain power as well. And quite a few of our social skills and general empathetic abilities suffer as a result. We are the most important thing in our lives because, well, we have to be.
Not that I’m saying all chronically ill folks are jerks but it does bring out the tendency in quite a few of us.
Never had I realized this until I began interacting with other chronically ill people (both physical and mental). I can remember the first time I had a conversation with a new friend who is suffering from a similar syndrome. All she wanted to talk about was how sick she was all the time. Even attempts to change the subject to more positive topics came directly back to how she was feeling at that moment.
Another friend seems to post every ache and pain on social media for the inevitable outpouring of concern. Yet another is always short with people because she feels everyone should all cater to her because she is “sick.” In fact, once I asked her something that we had discussed previously and she blew up at me for not remembering. She added that people are all rude and selfish because they don’t take the time to remember what she tells them.
Suddenly I was looking at my own behavior wondering: Is that what I do? Do I expect everyone to cater to me because I have this diagnosis? Have my manners also gone by the wayside? That’s when I realized that chronic illness was turning me into a bit of a jerk. Although not in as pronounced ways as my friends, I was becoming a self-centered person!
The fact of the matter is that everyone has a challenges in life. Everyone gets sick even if it’s not a prolonged illness. They deserve sympathy and compassion, too, right? Not just me.
So, I’ve pledged to myself to stop being a self-centered jerk. I’m going to stop using POTS as a crutch and start being more compassionate in general. And you know what? It feels good to care about someone else for a change.
Have you struggled with chronic illness? Did you find yourself becoming self-centered?