A Holiday Letter to the Friend of Someone With Chronic Illness
This year, as you know, I have spent a lot of time with my fellow spoonies in an attempt to feel less alone in dealing with my daily struggles. However, this holiday season I want to turn my attention to you, my friend, and tell you the things I don’t get to, or don’t know how to say during the year.
I want to start by saying: thank you. Thank you for standing by me during another year with quite a number of lows, during the bad days and flares, during my lasting sadness and pain. Thank you for listening when I rambled. Thank you for understanding when I went quiet for a while. Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for appreciating me. Thank you for being a true friend.
Having a chronically ill friend can’t be easy. We can’t meet up as often as you’d like. We can’t make as many memories as you’d like. I have to cancel trips you were looking forward to. You always need to take my health into account when talking to or spending time with me. I want you to know I am aware of this. I also want you to know that you should never feel like you can’t tell me about your own struggles, because they’re “not as bad” as mine. Your struggles are as valid as mine.
I also want you to know that no matter how much my illness hurts you, it does not compare to how much it hurts me. On top of the fatigue, pain and other symptoms, I have to deal with my fear that you don’t believe me or get angry and disappointed with me when I say I am too sick or anxious to meet up. I fear you think I don’t want to spend time with you. I fear I annoy you when I have to admit to having yet another flare day. I fear I alienate you when I am sad for a longer period of time. And most of all I have an intense fear of losing you, as I have lost friends to my illness before. That fear will never go away, no matter how many times you tell me you’re not going anywhere.
Though, when I think about all the years we have known each other and how you are still in my life, I know you will be by my side for whatever comes next. I hope you know I will be there for you too, whether in real life or via the internet.
So this Christmas, I toast to you: thank you so much for being my friend!
Your thankful friend
Getty Image by Jessica Ruscello