Friendships are never black and white. Some friendships last a lifetime and others are here with us for a season and then move on for many reasons. Endometriosis can cause complications with friendships, but it can also strengthen and create friendships as well.
I’ve had a bumpy road with my friendships in the years when my endometriosis was at its worst – and I can’t deny my responsibility in that. As my endometriosis worsened, so did my depression and anxiety, and I found it harder to be around people as this happened.
It became a real struggle to talk about anything positive or unrelated to endometriosis. I was at a time in my life when everything I did was geared toward trying to make my endometriosis, depression, and anxiety better. On top of that, I was bloody exhausted and trying to convey that exhaustion to my friends was really hard.
I couldn’t keep up with the nights out and would yawn my way through conversations, apologizing throughout, but unable to stop. I couldn’t find anything else to talk about other than what was happening in their lives, or in mine. There was no more conversation that was light, chatty, or about nothing and everything. All I could think about was how I had to fix whatever I was feeling.
I left social gatherings feeling down and defeated. I became paranoid that people were becoming fed up with my conversation and I was desperately trying to find other things to say. But it all felt fake, and I lost my sense of connection with my friends.
I began to avoid going out. This was partly due to needing to balance my nights out. I couldn’t keep up with the social life I had before and needed a bit more time to rest. But it also became easier to say no to things, as I thought about how I was going to get through the evening with only one topic to talk about.
On top of that, some of my friends couldn’t quite get their head around my change in lifestyle. I had to dramatically change my diet and began to incorporate healthier choices into my everyday routine. A few, and only a few, friends indicated that they didn’t think my new lifestyle was the right way to go about things, or they said point-blank that I was “extreme.” This drove a wedge between my friends and me, as I felt I couldn’t talk about what I was doing with my life anymore without making them uncomfortable. I was angry that they didn’t seem to understand what I was facing, and the reasons I was making these choices.
In my state of paranoia and anxiety, it was really hard to see reality from my fears. Maybe my friends didn’t think I was negative all of the time. And even if they did, perhaps they understood why I was feeling this way and made the effort to stick with me regardless. But it became hard to see that many friends did stick by my side — even when my depression was so dominant and I felt so overwhelmed by my feelings.
Now that I look back on those years, I can see that a huge number of people stayed by my side — even if it was challenging. Some relationships have changed and may never go back to how they were, or perhaps they will evolve and become something better over time. Others have strengthened, and I’ve seen the real beauty of these friendships. Others have become distant, but still loving, and one or two friendships have dissolved completely.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the mental and physical challenges I dealt with during those years were a catalyst for what happens in many normal friendships, just sped up a bit and intensified. And when I really consider those friendships, the experience only brought out what was true all along. At some point, perhaps all of these things would have happened anyway.
At the time, and even now, it can still feel a very isolating place. But looking back I realize I wasn’t as alone as I thought. I’ve made some amazing friends along the way.
In the next part of my “Endometriosis and Friendships” series, I’ll explore how other friendships grew, new friendships formed, and ways to maintain and nurture your friendships even if it feels like endometriosis is threatening to take them away.
Things change, people change — but you don’t have to be alone with endometriosis.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.