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How to Meet People and Maintain Friendships -- Even When Illness Gets in the Way

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I read an interesting article a few weeks ago on how and where to meet people. With everyone being busy, raising a family, and working more than 40 hours a week, most folks spend their time with those they already know.

When we’re dealing with a chronic illness, forming and maintaining friendships is even more difficult. How or where can we meet others who share the same interests? On top of that, if we can barely leave our home, how can a friendship be maintained?

Here are a few ideas on meeting people when you’re chronically ill:

  1. Connect with those who are like yourself by joining a local support group in your area. Members offer guidance, share tips, or there are educational   meetings on a variety of topics. There are also online support forums such as The Mighty and Spoonie Village.
  2. If you can’t do physical activities, there are fan pages you could look into such as favorite authors, actors, actresses, movies, TV shows, etc. You’ll be able to meet other fans who enjoy the same thing.
  3. If you want to learn about a variety of topics such literature, business, or foreign language for instance, try out Coursera. There are discussion boards where students can talk about the current lesson and exchange ideas.

When it comes to friendships, if we’re not feeling well, it doesn’t mean we have to end our friendships. Friends play a vital role in our health. They make us laugh and lend an ear if we need to talk. There are other benefits as well. They improve our confidence, self-worth, and reduce stress.

Remember, friendships are not a one-way street. If you have friends who listen to your struggles and are always there for you, remember things that matter to them such as birthdays and special events.

These are a few suggestions on how to maintain a friendship:

Take an interest in their lives. For example, my best friend, Linda, is a grandma for the second time. I’ll always ask about her grandsons and how they’re doing. If either one of us needs someone to talk to, we are always there for each other. My friend, Elaine, lived in the same town as I did. We use to walk our bassets together and do fun things such as going to basket raffles. After she moved, we’ve continued to keep in touch via emails and phone calls. When I’d visit her, she always found activities that were interesting and fun to do.  I never had a dull moment.

If I have to cancel plans due to health reasons, I’ll call and ask if we can do it some other time. My friends already know that everything depends on how I’m feeling. Then I’ll thank them for being supportive and understanding.

I realize friendships can change. Friends move away and lose contact; some have children so their time is limited; there’s many reasons these relationships can change. Even though things are not the same as before, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad thing.

Some people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

What kind of friend do you choose to be?

Originally published: November 30, 2019
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