Being the Only Friend With a Chronic Illness

About the Author: Isabella is an advocate for Lupus and general disability awareness. She uses her platform to talk about all things chronic illness and spread the word about what it's like to have a chronic illness. She's also quite the fashionista and is always showing her stunning looks on her instagram, so to see more of those and learn more about Lupus follow her here!

Managing a chronic illness while juggling a social life was hard for me at the beginning. I was a private person, but when information got out that I had a chronic illness, everything changed in my social life, including friendships and relationships. There is a saying that goes, “It is amazing how chronic illness turns friends into strangers and strangers into friends”.  Many of my past friendships ended in the same order; caring, thoughtful, and supportive and then slowly fade away.  It is actually pretty hard for people to detect what you’re going through, while managing your own illness and limitations. 

I have always thought I was a burden on my friends and family.  I would sometimes cancel plans and events because I didn’t feel well or I had a flare up.  I thought to myself that people would view me as undependable or indecisive.  Was I a hold up in their life?  Did I embarrass them by being “the friend with a chronic illness”?  Was I not fun to be around, anymore?  Who would want to be friends with someone like me? All these thoughts building up in my mind.  Many times I wasn’t invited to events and I saw several people whom I considered my friend, social media posts, without me in the picture.  Not even checking in to see if I wanted to hang out…I basically felt “dumped”. 

Experiencing a life changing illness that changes your outlook on everything, is stressful and overwhelming.  But learning to overcome these challenges, I learned I’m not a burden and as some may put it “the elephant in the room”.  Sure, I cancel plans, I talk about my illness a lot, and I need reassurance more than most but I’m just a child. Many of my past friendships I believe evolved because of my health situation and that’s okay if it did. 

I have grown and matured to know my worth and who I am, personally. I am compassionate, caring, sweet, understanding, and definitely forgiving! Having a friend with a chronic illness is sometimes hard, but it requires patience and understanding. From experience, many people don’t know how to act around someone with a chronic illness.  The funny part is I’m still the same me as before, I’m just diagnosis with a life changing illness that presents challenges. I’m just stronger, wiser, compassionate, and my sense of humor is a bit darken, lol! 

My advice to someone with a friend diagnosed with a chronic illness is this: Be patient.  Listen! Understand. Be flexible and EDUCATE yourself on the illness. Check up on them from time to time and always be supportive. Don’t see them as a “medical condition”, see them as the person they are. To my Spoonies, find friendships that are rock-solid and ‘true”. They are very rare, but they will make sure you smile and feel supported while being your friend.