It’s hard to hang out with people who aren’t sick. It’s hard being reminded that you have so many restrictions in your life: you have to go slower, you can’t eat or drink certain things, loud noises and bright lights are excruciating, you can’t stay out as long, you can’t feel like a valid member of your own generation — the list goes on. I frequently feel like I can’t be the friend everyone wants me to be, like I just can’t keep up.
But like those two friends from above assured me, I’m still a friend, no matter my health and life circumstances. It’s something I have to accept — I’m sick, but I can still have healthy friends, and most importantly, healthy friendships. It’s not their fault I drift away from them; it’s mine. So one of my New Year goals is to try harder to keep up with those friends. In the meantime…
Here are my top five tips on what we really need from you, as our friend, confidant, and overall “person.”
Please don’t pity us. No matter how bad our situation may seem, most of us really don’t want you to think “oh, poor thing” when you see or talk to us. Yeah, the prognosis might be bad, but your friend may prefer for you to look at it from a more optimistic perspective. Help out! Pour the glass half full. No apologies — you didn’t do this to us, you can’t cure it, so please… don’t pity us.
But don’t downplay our pain or illness, either. While we may not want pity, we definitely dowant you to understand the severity of our health condition and be sincere about our feelings. We do want sympathy where it’s appropriate. Yes, sometimes it is “poor us” or “why me?” but we carry on anyway. Still, we are chronically ill, that’s the cold, hard truth, and we do want you to remember it.
It takes courage to open up. Being open and honest about the state of our health can be scary. It can make it feel more real. It can take a lot for us to even share small pieces of the big illness puzzle such as test results, gory symptoms, and even just the little accomplishments we make in a day’s time. If we’re sharing these details with you, know that we trust you with this information and that we expect you to take it seriously. On the same note, sometimes we may just need to vent about all that stuff, too.
But sometimes we may need to get our minds off our illness for a while. When we hang out with our “healthy, normal” friends, our minds can be taken elsewhere — away from pill bottles, medical tests, health diaries — whatever it may be. Our lives are reminders of our illnesses 24/7/365. So we are able to “forget” the chronically ill part of ourselves for a while when we’re with you, and it can be super relieving not to have to focus on it for a bit. We may have to check some things or have some restrictions but for the most part, hope you can be a fun, genuine distraction.
We know you don’t totally “get it” and that’s OK. Not living the chronic illness life is something a lot of us take for granted, but trust coming from someone who is sick when I say I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I don’t want you to completely “get it.” Don’t sweat it if you just don’t grasp how it is medically day in and day out; it’s OK. I understand that you try, and that’s all I ask. It’s the best gift to just be there. Your sympathy, support, and friendship are enough. It’s all we truly need.
Taken from an article by Jorie Logan Morris. Click on the link below to read more from Jorie.