Let’s face it, relationships have their ups and downs. Medical conditions and chronic illnesses bring with them unique challenges. Mix the two together and what do you get? I think that’s an incredibly interesting question.
To that end, and in honor of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd, I thought I would start the discussion with something I recently watched on television this past week. During Amy Schumer’s Netflix Special “Growing” she shares of her deep love for her husband, who has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. She states, “I knew from the beginning that my husband’s brain was a little different than mine.” She reveals how she noticed signs early in their relationship that he might be on the spectrum, but also wonderfully shared that these are some of her favorite things about him. She states, “All of the characteristics that make it clear that he’s on the spectrum are all the reasons I fell madly in love with him.”
It doesn’t always work this way though. I’ve had myalgic encephalomyelitis (#MECFS) long enough to have had more than one person say to me, “that’s great that you found a partner and that he loves you despite your chronic illness.” Despite?? Are you kidding me?? Let’s get back to what Amy was talking about…. Why is it so hard to believe that someone simply loves us, just as they are loved in their relationships? Amy Schumer nailed it when she was talking about her husband. You love someone for who they are. Our conditions come part and parcel with us – there’s no “despite.”
Yes, medical conditions and chronic illnesses can bring some additional challenges into a relationship, but they also may have shaped who we are today, that person that another adores us for. Words that come to mind when I think of all the people I have met with my illness or other conditions are: uniquely gifted, compassionate, caring, centered, kind, generous, helpful, giving, insightful… the list goes on. If any of us are lucky enough to meet someone, anyone, with these traits, hold on and count your blessings!
As it’s often said, love knows no bounds. It is limitless and can overcome anything and everything. Love is one of the true beauties of the world. To love someone is to know who they are and love them for it. So, for anyone wondering how someone can consider entering or being in a relationship with someone with a medical condition or chronic illness, I have to say – you are closing your heart out to something truly incredible!
I would love to hear what you think! I’ve purposely left this article a bit open and short as I think that personal experiences are what will be the most insightful on this topic. I would love to hear how you’ve fell in love with someone or they fell in love with you when there’s been an illness or medical condition in the mix. How did it impact it? How has it enriched the relationship?
Lastly, I want to take a moment to encourage anyone that is not aware of autism spectrum disorders to learn more about them. While April 2nd is dedicated to raising such awareness, every day is a great day to broaden our horizons and learn more about the people we share this world with. I know many people with autism spectrum disorder and feel honored they have welcomed me into their life. To them I say, thank you for being you and for sharing your world with me and letting me share mine with you!
**April is World Autism awareness month, a month where friends and neighbors around the world come together to increase global understanding and acceptance of people with autism. There are a vast number of amazing organizations dedicated to autism, including the Autism International Foundation, Autism Society, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network, and the National Autism Association that can provide more information on this condition, resources, and information on how to support them through donations. I am far from an expert on autism and plan to take this month to raise my own awareness and knowledge of autism.