How to navigate your relationship when you experience chronic illness.
Relationships and chronic illness aren't always the perfect of matches… They can feel like a really clunky pair at times can't they? But the unusual duo sure does teach you how to navigate them effectively and learn some important life skills along the way. I'm a long way from perfect, but for what it's worth - here's a few things I've learnt (through failure as well as success). And of course, this not only applies to romantic relationships, but to friendship and familial relationships too.
1. Communication is everything! When you experience chronic illness or symptoms, it can feel impossible at times to articulate or express your internal world. It can feel like there are constant battles and sensations that no one can see, that are invisible. That can lead to feeling not understood and disconnected from even those closest to you. But that's the thing, they are invisible - and until they are expressed, a partner can never have the chance to fully understand, to empathise. So it requires you to be deeply vulnerable, to express and communicate needs in even the toughest of times.
2. You have to come first sometimes... There are many, many times I not gone to things with my partner. Times where I've said no to doing lovely things together. That is hard, but the truth is that in order for you to truly show up as the best version of yourself in any relationship - you need to come first a lot of the time, you need to nourish and honour your health and body. And that's okay - as long as you revert back to tip number 1 through the process :). It teaches you to be a great partner, but also an independent person when you need to be.
3. Your worth isn't based on what you do, it's who you are When you can't always 'do' as much as you'd like - you have to build a relationship and love that's not based on how much you do or achieve together, but instead on who you are, the values you have, the love you give, the vulnerability you communicate with and the laughter you can have, no matter the circumstance. These are the things that truly matter and you have to learn to believe that about yourself too. Sending lots of healing love, James