Facebook is a blessing and a curse for those with a chronic illness.
One the one hand, we can connect with the world and our friends without leaving the comfort of our homes. We can keep those that care about us informed and updated on how our illness is going, and in turn receive support. It’s a way of feeling not alone with an illness that demands you be alone much of the time. There is one problem with Facebook though.
Depression is part of any chronic illness. Our brains are dealing with pain, and also a restricted way of life. Face book can be a huge trigger for depression, at least until you have accepted that everyone has something in their life they are dealing with. People are out with telescopes. Suddenly I want to be out with a telescope. I feel sad. My good side tries to enjoy the wonderful photographs my friends with telescopes post. I feel lucky I have the internet so I can enjoy the results of their efforts.
Other friends work full time and have jobs they get great satisfaction from. Now many people with a chronic illness not only work from choice, but many simply have to work. Most enjoy their work, but it is much harder for them than it appears to be for everyone else on Facebook. You have to assure yourself that while they seem to work full time and go home and cook gourmet dinners, you are happy for them. It’s terrific these people have the energy, time and HEALTH to do things you perhaps used to do.
Sometimes I remind myself I used to go out and kayak for hours. I would walk around Paris for 8 hours straight. I would come back and sink into a hot tub and go “ahhhh” and awake the next morning and do it again. When I see people enjoying themselves as I used to I need to remind myself “I am so glad they are doing these things, because you never know. I could do that once also!” If anything I want to tell my friends with good HEALTH, “Go out and do MORE! Please share because it makes me happy to see what fun you get up to and what happiness you get from doing things.” I just ask that they truly APPRECIATE how lucky they are. Appreciate that walk in the park, appreciate that trip to Peru, appreciate that race you are running and the long bicycle rides.
I still get angry when I see people just standing up and walking. They just WALK like it is nothing at all. I want to shake them sometimes and go “Do you know how lucky you are?”
I have a friend Randy, who may not be in what some people would consider perfect shape. He has aches and pains, but he appreciates nature so much that he will go out on wonderful hikes and share his photographs. I appreciate what he shares even more as I know it’s not easy for him to do these hikes. I know I enjoy seeing photographs of places I will never go to. It’s not simply “I’ll put that on my bucket list.” No, there is no use in even imagining that one day I’ll go hike up mountains again. Others have large bucket lists that realistically they know they will never fully complete. For a person with a chronic illness, we can’t even pretend we are going to climb Everest. Not happening.
We instead focus on what we can do, we have modest goals.
What would be nice is if our Facebook friends got that our working full time is an incredible achievement. Part time is incredible for others. Cooking a meal or attending a conference can be a major cause for celebration. Even taking an interest in something we’ve neglected or a new activity is cause for joy, because it indicates we’re keeping that depression under control.
I remind myself that lots of humans enjoy their lives without discovering the secrets of Easter Island first hand (also the guides lie about a lot of stuff, I saw that on a documentary. Thankfully if I can’t go to Easter Island I can learn about it via the internet!). “If wishes were horses beggars would ride.” Well, if wishes were cures poor Easter Island would sink into the ocean from the number of visitors. We might be the beggars of life, but we have our successes to share also.
Just remember also, taking a Facebook break is a good plan for everyone if they find it is depressing them. Stepping back when something bad happens in your life works well for many. Others find the support and love of online friends helpful. It’s important we know what works for us.