To My Suitemate Who Sees Me as More Than My Illnesses


Dear Suitemate,

When we met last year I knew we would become friends. We are similar in ways that made it easy for us to get along. I was so excited when you asked if I wanted to room together this year. We ended up compromising and living in the same suite (two rooms sharing a living room and bathroom) because I need to not have a roommate.

Last year you knew I had chronic illnesses, but you did not know much of what my life was like with them. I was a little worried about how living together would change our relationship.

When we moved into the dorms in August my life was managed fairly well. There were a couple instances where it was more obvious I wasn’t completely healthy, like when I ended up in the ER on move-in day, or when I passed out in our bathroom, but I was managing all aspects of my life just fine.

The last few weeks have been a little tougher with new problems emerging and although I was initially worried about how you being more aware of my symptoms would affect our relationship, I don’t know how I could have done it without you.

You can tell when I don’t feel well and are keenly perceptive. You let me know ever so subtly that you won’t think less of me if I have to sit down for a minute to catch my breath, ask for help or sit something out. You have taken on some responsibilities for ANCHOR when I couldn’t handle them. You don’t question me when I do things that “normal” 19-year-olds don’t do.

You have taken me to Urgent Care when I needed an IV, but couldn’t drive myself. You check in to see how I’m doing and let me know you are there if I want to talk, but instead of asking questions you leave it up to me to decide how much I want to share.

You are also there if I need to be normal for a while with it having absolutely nothing to do with illnesses, symptoms or treatments.

The biggest worry I had was that our friendship would become about me being sick, but that never happened.

Our relationship is exactly like it was before. Perhaps the thing that means the most to me is that you don’t treat me like I’m sick. You don’t look down at me or act like I can’t do certain things because of my illnesses. I am still invited when the group gets together even if I deny the invitation. You see me as the same person you knew before you learned about my illnesses and that means the world to me.

It’s been a blessing to have you in my life.

Caitlin

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Thinkstock photo via Bojan89.

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