Is "yes, but..." okay?
June 7, 2012 5:26 PM Subscribe
What are the rules of social engagement for people with unpredictable health issues?
posted by anonymous to human relations (21 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I'm recently diagnosed with a serious illness. It isn't life threatening, but I will have it for the rest of my life and will need to take medication and make drastic lifestyle changes to manage it.
Although my doctor assures me I will get to my "new normal" eventually, at the moment I'm still quite sick, dependent on a lot of medications, and generally weak and tired. I expect this to be the status quo for a few more months. I can pull myself together enough to make it to work most of the time (basically the bare minimum to keep from being fired). I have good days and bad days, and on good days I have enough energy to leave the house to do fun, non work things for a few hours (e.g. a short walk, shopping, sitting in a cafe, etc).
My friends have been pretty supportive throughout this situation, although I honestly think they don't understand the extent of my illness -- partially my fault because I always try to make jokes or minimize what is going on so as not to burden them. As a result, I think I am alienating or offending people when I reach my limitations. Knowing that I have good days sometimes, if someone close to me invites me to a meal or gathering, I say "Yes, if I am feeling up to it I would love to." Sometimes (maybe 50% of the time), the day of the appointment rolls around and I can't keep my commitment. Prior to getting sick I was the type to run myself ragged doing a million different activities, so it has taken a lot for me to be able to step back and say "My health comes first, I need more rest today, I can't come over tonight." I know that's the right thing to do, but I also think it's rude, and I've picked up on vibes lately that my friends feel that way too.
I'm scared of ending up isolated and alone by saying no to everything, but I don't want to burn bridges by acting like a flake either. What are the rules in these situations? How can I respect my friends and take care of myself?