Living With Acromegaly: Strengthening Your Casual Connection Network
While there are many ways to address changing dynamics in casual relationships, here are some ideas for accessible and actionable approaches that you can explore:
Share Your Acromegaly Story
Getting an acromegaly diagnosis takes time. Your casual connections likely knew something was happening at the time but didn’t understand the full scope of what you went through—and are still going through. So, when you cancel plans last minute or decline invites to do physically strenuous activities such as running or hiking, they may not understand why.
While sharing your acromegaly story is a personal choice, doing so can create an open dialogue with your coworkers, book club friends, or coffee crew. Explaining how certain symptoms or situations (such as your monthly injection beginning to wear off) affect you and the activities you can participate in provides perspective for the people in your life. It can even help people have empathy for your experience and remove cognitive biases they have that prevent them from seeing a situation from your perspective.
The truth is acromegaly does impose restrictions on what you can and cannot do. However, internal and external pressure may make you feel like you should continue saying ‘yes’ to social outings or work events that leave you exhausted and overwhelmed when they’re over. Setting boundaries helps you put yourself first and lays solid foundations for healthy relationships built on trust and respect. While boundaries are good in every relationship, you may not have practiced setting them with more casual friends or acquaintances. Being clear about what you need and why will help you feel more in control of your health and relationships.
For example, if a friend asks you why you keep canceling Saturday lunch plans, you can say something like, “I really want to go to lunch, but by the weekends, I’m usually exhausted from work and often have joint pain that makes it hard to go out. It’s usually easier for me to go on Sundays.”
Find Groups of Like-Minded People
While sharing your story with friends or acquaintances can undoubtedly be helpful, there’s nothing like being surrounded by people going through a similar experience. Not everyone in your life will understand what you’re going through or be capable of offering support in the way you need, even if you share your experiences with them.
Acromegaly support groups can help you feel heard and validate your feelings and challenges. You can also learn how others who are further along in their acromegaly journey have navigated setting boundaries or changing relationships. Nonprofits and patient-centered organizations, such as Acromegaly Community and Pituitary Network Association, provide access to support, resources, and community forums.
Living with acromegaly can be difficult, but it also provides an opportunity to find new ways to cultivate a well-rounded casual social network that fulfills you and makes you feel seen and heard. Our next post will discuss strategies to help you maintain your independence and build strong relationships for the long haul.
Want to apply these solutions to your own casual relationship challenges? Download this free exercise resource, “Addressing Obstacles in Your Casual Relationships.”
What are some challenges you’ve encountered in your casual relationships?