4 Ways I've Strengthened My Friendships While Having a Chronic Illness


Chronic illness and chronic pain can be hard on relationships. On Friendships.

I’d like to share what I’ve learned through trial and a lot of error, lots and lots of error, over my lifetime of dealing with chronic illness. Things that strengthened friendships in my life and things that broke them.

1. Canceling plans.

It’s pretty much a given that there will be the need to cancel plans. Some things that can lessen the chance of hurt feelings or a friend getting upset are to make sure you tell your friend, right when the plans are being made, that you are going to do all you can to come, that it’s very important to you, you are looking forward to it, but there is a chance you might have to cancel. If your friend doesn’t know the details about your health enough to know why you might have to cancel at the last minute, make sure you explain it to them.

If the plans are for something where you canceling would cause a huge problem, only confirm those plans if you have a back up plan that works for everyone involved. This could mean arranging to have a replacement friend who can take your place at the last minute, or you being willing to pay the fee you would have paid if you had gone, if a friend will have to pay it even if you don’t show up. It could mean having a possible alternate venue, like holding the outing at your own house, to ensure you can be there. There are many ways to make a back up plan, and it depends on the scenario. Be sure you discuss and agree about the details with your friend, though. Make sure it’s a back up plan that everyone will be happy with.

2. Communicate that you want to communicate.

What I mean by this is, make sure your friend knows that you want to still hear their happy news, you want to rejoice with them when they have good news. Reassure them that it won’t make you sad, that they don’t have to feel guilty for finding joy just because your health is struggling.

On the opposite end, make sure that they know you want to still be there for them. In all ways. That if they’ve had a bad day, and need to vent to someone, you want to be their support system. Let them know that their pain, their struggles always matter, even if they feel they are small in comparison to yours, they matter to you. You want them to come to you. You are strong enough. That friendship means being there for each other, through all things, the good and the bad.

3. Show them that you appreciate their friendship.

Let them know that you see how much they are supporting you.

Thank them. Often. Send a little text. Send a thinking of you card through snail mail. Phone them. Be supportive in return. It’s not easy watching someone you care about struggle. It’s not easy being the one struggling either. Together, you can make it a bit easier for each other.

4. Remember to laugh and be silly.

This is so important. It’s not just important for the friendship. It’s important for your overall health. Your being. As they say, laughter is the best medicine. You are still yourself, you haven’t become only a sick person. Remember to take the time to be goofy and ridiculous. It’s a wonderful thing.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock Image By: gpointstudio

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Chronic Pain

woman lying awake at night

When Chronic Pain Makes Sleeping Impossible

Oh my word! I need sleep!!! I can’t be the only one, the only person with chronic pain and chronic illness, who, no matter what tips they’ve tried, can’t sleep at night. I’m turning into a vampire right this moment. I’ll be sporting fangs and a dramatic cape any minute now. if(typeof(jQuery)=="function"){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)}; jwplayer('jwplayer_y9XH0RjV_zURkbSIg_div').setup( {"playlist":"https:\/\/content.jwplatform.com\/feeds\/y9XH0RjV.json","ph":2} ); [...]
stones balancing on top of each other

Finding a Balance Between the Ups and Downs in My Life With Chronic Pain

The most difficult part of writing about chronic pain is trying to remember where it began, because chronic pain has been deeply ingrained in my life since I can remember. Another thing I hesitate over is the eye rolls it might already have received – when you’ve lived your life not always in the best [...]
24 things doctors don't tell people about chronic pain

24 Things Doctors Don't Tell People About Chronic Pain

When the average person gets sick or injured, they often go to the doctor, expecting to be diagnosed, treated and cured within a matter of days or weeks. Doctors are supposed to be the experts – the people you can trust and turn to for answers and relief from symptoms. Unfortunately, this is not always the [...]
chronic spotlight series with puja rios and ellejay volpe

Chronic Spotlight Series: A Conversation With ElleJay Volpe

Welcome to the second installment of the Chronic Spotlight Series, where I’m featuring inspiring and important voices in our chronic pain (CP) community. Up next is ElleJay Volpe. ElleJay is the sparkling CEO at Frill-Ability Inc. and an Ambassador at Abilities Expo, as well as an avid blogger and host of the podcast, Adaptively Intersectional [...]