The Great Divide: How Undiagnosed, Misdiagnosed, and Mystery Illnesses Effect Family and Friends

Familial relationships and friendships can be a challenge to maintain even when your body is functioning at peak performance. So, what happens to these relationships when your body becomes ravaged by the symptoms of an invisible or mystery illness?

Your Symptoms are only the Beginning

Initially, family and friends offer sympathy. They believe that you are suffering, and provide comfort and support. With good intentions, they pay a visit laden with casseroles, heating pads and analgesics – all short-term remedies designed to help “until you get back on your feet.” During the early stages, missing social functions, taking a few days off work, and having a messy house is totally acceptable. In the beginning, family and friends wait with bated breath for the results of your latest medical test, or for news of your latest office visit with the specialist. What happens when the results are inconclusive, or there’s simply no “news” to share? Onward, to the next phase…

Advice from Family and Friends

During the middle stages, family and friends adopt a new mantra: “The doctor can’t find anything wrong, and your test results are all fine.” Family and friends lose heart along with their desire to believe. While you’re still invited to family functions and social gatherings, no one really expects you to attend. Your unkempt home and absence from work begins to be perceived as laziness. At this stage, family and friends feel free to dole out advice such as:

  • “Why don’t you start taking vitamins?”
  • “You probably just need more exercise. Why don’t you buy a treadmill?”
  • “You need more sleep. Start going to bed earlier.”

Or, offered with pure intent from Christian friends:

  • “You need to have more faith.”
  • “You need to pray more.”

Experiencing Isolation

During the latter stage, you become isolated from family and friends. More often than not, this isolation is self-inflicted. You begin to lose the desire to make your family and friends “believe”, and start turning to the Internet for solace, reaching out in cyberspace to connect with others who are also suffering silently. In the latter stage, you may feel like you’re a bother to family and friends, or like a tiresome broken record that’s continually recounting symptoms and failed treatments.

Getting Your Life Back

During the final stage, you rediscover hope. You’re reminded of what your mystery symptoms can’t take away and you make the decision to be proactive and take control of your health. Here, at the final stage, you regain freedom and control over your health challenges.

So, what stage of your health journey are you in? And, what are you doing about it? Share your story, and post a comment.

Related Posts:

Invisible Illness Intro

The Not so Invisible Costs of a Having an Invisible or Undiagnosed Illness