Have you ever told a friend how tired you are, or how much anxiety comes with your condition only to have them tell you they know what you mean? They proceed to share with you how they once stayed up over 30 hours and felt like a zombie for days after, so of course, they understand the exhaustion that comes with most chronic conditions.
The truth is, I don't understand what anyone else's pain, exhaustion, anxiety, worries, or fears are. No matter how many I connect with who have chronic conditions, some with the same ones I have, I can never truly understand how their illness affects them. I can relate, of course. I know what it means to feel like no amount of rest will make you feel functional. I know what it's like to feel fine in the morning and by early afternoon being feeling like death twice warmed over.
The thing is, I don't need to know precisely what it is like, the fact I can relate is more than enough. What I can do, what I wish everyone would do more of, is meet people where they are with compassion. I may not know what it is like to become trapped in your body slowly, but I can imagine it, and more importantly, I can be compassionate, empathetic, and supportive rather than playing a game of one-up-man-ship. This isn't a contest; it is life, life with chronic conditions that make things more challenging and more stressful. So let's reach out to each other, support each other, and recognize that no one can ever honestly know how something feels to another, but we can still be there for them.