I dithered for a while as to whether to include this topic in the ‘Chronic Pain and The Erosion of Self’ series or give it a different title. Online friendships are something I have gained through chronic illness rather than some that I have lost; that said, they are something I’ve gained ONLY because my life has been changed so entirely by Chronic Daily Migraine and Fibromyalgia. After going backwards and forwards on it for a while, my already addled brain grew tired, so I decided to just write 😊
When I was working full time I still had more typically ‘chronic’ migraine to deal with (the official definition is 15 days or more of head pain with at least 8 of those being full blown migraines), so when the time I was at work, working at home or in bed with a migraine was added up, there were years where there was pretty much no time left over for anything else. In the years when I did have some disposable time, I loved meeting friends for a drink and a catch up or going out on girlie shopping trip on a Saturday in search of a handbag to match my latest pair of heels.
Such things feel like a very distant memory these days. As I discussed in my last post, maintaining friendships has become significantly harder in recent years. I have however stumbled upon a different kind of friend via the online (mostly Twitter based) Spoonie community.
I was a little hesitant about Twitter at first but joining was a really good thing for me. As with IRL friends, I have found different friends who play different roles – some who regularly share my content, some who cheer me on when they read my posts and some who stay in touch through private messages. I’ve even found a friend who I exchange messages with several times a week who knows when my big appointments are and what aspects of Chronic Life I’m particularly struggling with; I know these things about her too. It’s great to find people who understand all the ins and outs of your condition since they have some version of it too but of course they’ll always be one or two online buddies who stand out – as with all friendships, bonds that are formed vary in depth and durability.
Obviously not all online friendships involve lots of private communication or bonding; some are conducted entirely in public. These public displays of support and understanding via likes, shares and comments on content are important too – there is something comforting about knowing that there are people out there (all over the world in fact) who can relate to the challenges we face. It is all too easy to feel isolated and freakish – something as simple as a Twitter friend saying “I know! That happens to me too!” can really help. When we manage to complete a task that is simple for a healthy person but a challenge for us, it’s nice to have Twitter Spoonie friends to share a “Woo Hoo!” with.
I think the fact that we live in a variety of places is an advantage of online friendships. Chronic Life can be very hard and sometimes it’s easier to express frustration or even moments of despair to a friend who isn’t part of your day-to-day IRL situation. Our spouses and parents do a lot of worrying about us; sometimes it’s good to be able to share the difficult feelings chronic illness generates without worrying that we’re making them worry!
What is the biggest advantage of online Spoonie friendships in your experience? Have you encountered any down sides?
Wishing you good luck and happy days,
Tweet/Follow me here.
Follow me on Bloglovin.
Check out my YouTube channel.