- Last Updated: 02 February 2023 02 February 2023
"I’ve been a big fan of mmorpgs (massively multiplayer online role playing games) since before I got sick. Being stuck at home and unable to work, they’re also now a large part of how I interact with the world."
My name is Jehan. I’m 24, and I’ve been sick with ME/CFS since I was 17 years old.
I’m mostly housebound. When I do go outside, I rely on a combination of different mobility aids to get around. This happens pretty rarely because the physical toll of even short outings knocks me out for days after.
When I got sick, I lost most of the friendships that I’d formed in and outside of school. I found myself incredibly isolated, feeling like everyone I knew had moved on with their lives, while I was just… stuck.
When I meet someone in real life, often the first thing they see is the wheelchair. Sometimes people try to start conversions about it. An Uber driver once noticed my cane and asked me, “So… What happened to your leg?” I didn’t really know how to tell him that mono happened to my leg. And also the rest of me. And then didn’t stop happening.
But most people in my life don’t really know all of this. Most of them know me as this guy:
I’ve been a big fan of mmorpgs (massively multiplayer online role playing games) since before I got sick. Being stuck at home and unable to work, they’re also now a large part of how I interact with the world.
Online, I find it a lot easier to introduce myself. It’s very different from forming relationships in person. My girlfriend of going on five years didn’t know I was sick when she met me. She didn’t know my first name, or what I looked like, or where I was from. But she knew I was funny on Twitter. And that we both played tabletop games, and liked the same podcast. So, we started talking. We played tabletop games over voice chat. I cracked a couple jokes about how my body didn’t work right. We had long discussions about disabled characters in media and my perspective on them. We started crushing on each other before we’d even seen a picture.
Years later, she is one of my staunchest supporters, eternally patient and understanding of my condition, and I count myself unimaginably lucky that she found ‘guy who is funny on the internet’ as attractive as she did.
Getting sick as young as I did, I missed out on a lot of milestones. Graduating from high school. A real first date. Moving farther than a few blocks from home. Getting a job.
But being online (especially in games like FFXIIV) has let me form friendships, build my confidence, go to events I’d never be able to attend in person – even small things, like going for a walk or sitting on a bench with someone. The other day, I helped someone move to a new apartment.
Recently, a friend of mine handed me three million (fake, digital) dollars so that my (fake, digital) self could buy a (fake, digital) house. My (fake, digital) house is next to other (fake, digital) houses, bought with (fake, digital) money by entirely real people.
I see them walking around. We wave to each other. They say they like my house.
Yes, I’m very sick. Yes, this disease completely derailed my life. Yes, I wish I didn’t have ME/CFS. But you know what?
My girlfriend still thinks I’m funny, my friends and I meet up for shenanigans almost every night, and my (fake, digital) house looks GREAT.