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My Friend and I Are Both Chronically Ill, but I Still Struggle With How to Help Her

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I am only 16, and my friend is 16 as well. We both have very different chronic disorders/illnesses. Hers are postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). Mine are autoimmune disorders. We bonded quickly because of these struggles, and we have become very good friends. A lot of our symptoms are the same, but others are very different. We can help each other most of the time, but I find it hard to help her when she has a flare of certain types.

I feel like a bad friend because of this, and I want to help more. But I don’t know how. Sometimes it feels like I can read her racing thoughts. The thoughts that tell her she is a burden, and the ones that make her feel guilty. I know because I have these thoughts too. They gnaw at me whenever I need help, and when I have a flare. I feel like my illnesses are so much less than what she has to go through.

I have constant anxiety that I am a burden and a bad friend. Because I can’t always help her, even though I want to. Lying awake at night, I think about how I should be able to help. That I need to make myself more aware of her illnesses and disorders.

But the truth is, I will never be able to meet my own standards. Because those standards I have made are set higher then humanly possible. I just need to remember to help when and where I can. All I need to do is make sure she knows she is not a burden to me. That she should not feel guilty. She can’t control this, so there is no reason to say sorry. Because nothing wrong has been done.

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Thinkstock photo via william87.

Originally published: July 6, 2017
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