Unexpected health diagnoses, out-of-the-blue financial crises, or family drama can compound our feelings of not belonging, throwing us further into a spiral of self-doubt and loneliness.
My feelings of not belonging all of sudden became compounded by an autoimmune diagnosis, with the underlying and increased anxiety and depression the sweet little cherry on top of it all.
This new diagnosis, this new reality of living with Hashimoto’s, exacerbated my feeling that I was on the outside of things. And in fact, these events can make it that we truly are even more on the outside. We feel broken, no longer capable of living up to the expectations of society, of our family, of our friends, of our job.
For me, the numbers on the scale kept creeping up, my hair was thinning and coming out in clumps, my skin constantly itched, and I constantly wanted to crawl out of it.
Anxiety around diagnosis…
We become so anxious and self-conscious about our diagnosis, about our changing physical and mental states, about our situation, whatever it is, that it becomes so much more difficult to interact socially. While before we were trudging through molasses in trying to fit in and belong, we may as well be buried to our necks in sand and clay now.
This was my reality when I received my Hashimoto’s diagnosis. I felt horrible all of the time, both physically ill and mentally drained. I struggled to control my diet, struggled to stick to the foods that wouldn’t make me even more sick, facing judgment from others for all of a sudden changing my diet.
I struggled with my body image as I put on weight, as I struggled to maintain some semblance of a workout program. I would stare at myself in the mirror, nearly in tears, as I realized that it would be an even bigger uphill battle to fit into the physical fitness expectations of society and, on some level, my family.
How to know when you've buried your true identity
Get the four steps to recognize and pinpoint when you’ve been morphing yourself to fit other’s expectations.
The struggle is real…
So many of us go through these same unexpected events and struggle to process how it changes our sense of belonging. Friends questioning why we’re changing our diets, why we can’t do certain things anymore, why we’re changing from who we usually are around them.
We feel the guilt of not living up to their expectations, of being the reason that things have changed. We feel as though we’re to blame for everyone else’s discomfort, for their questions and uncertainty around us. So, we pull away and return to our silent place of being alone, no longer fitting in, no longer being granted belonging to that group.
Learning to belong…
But we can still belong, even with our diagnosis, even with the unexpected events that cascade around us, throwing our minds out of sync.
What is holding you back from fully participating with your friend groups after an unexpected diagnosis or event? Come share with us in our community, or share in the comments below.