The Mighty Logo

If You Have Chronic Illness, Don't Forget to Surround Yourself With People Who Care

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Whenever I am normally in a Crohn’s flare, I tend to isolate myself. I hate for other people to see me when I am in so much pain that I sometimes can’t even walk. I hate for people to see me crying out of pain, frustration and embarrassment. Since my diagnosis I have had people tell me things such as…

“Stop making a scene… you’re not actually sick.”

“My niece has IBD and she’s just fine… stop overreacting.”

“Stop being so lazy, everyone else has to work.”

It has been comments such as these that have made me feel even more isolated. Comments that make me feel like I am a hindrance to others and that I really may be overreacting. The worst part about this was that the majority of these comments came from grown adults. As a teenager trying to adjust to life with a chronic illness, one of the hardest things for me was seeing people that I thought I could trust leave me. People that I thought were my friends talk behind my back.

Recently though, I realized these people who left me or made comments to me never truly were my “friends.” A few weeks ago, I realized there are people who want to help me. People who care about me and people who will do anything for me.

The past few months, my health has been a rollercoaster ride. One particular Saturday I will never forget. It was one of the scariest moments for me health-wise, but it also taught me that there are people who still care. Since starting college, I have found a church that has opened up its arms to me and little by little, I am becoming more involved. This one Saturday I was at a choir rehearsal for a big service the following day. I woke up like any other day, feeling pretty good. About one and a half hours into this rehearsal I became extremely sick. What was supposed to be a fun day, turned extremely scary. Even though I have had many Crohn’s flares within the past four years, I was still scared. The pain was unbearable, I wasn’t near my dorm and for the first time during one of my flares, my mom wasn’t there to hold me through it. The worst part about this day… about 50 people saw me run out of rehearsal. About 50 people saw me sit down shaking and crying and I was afraid it would be like every time before that. That people would make the same comments I have heard time and time again.

That’s not what happened though and today I am very blessed for getting sick at that moment. I am thankful for every person that checked to make sure I was OK. People checking to see if there was anything they could do to help me. I am thankful for the one woman who already knew about my Crohn’s. Not only did she check to make sure I was OK, but she never left me. She sat with me and held me while I was shaking and couldn’t stop crying. She was my voice, when I became too weak to talk to people. Most of all, just for a minute, I wasn’t scared, because even though my mom wasn’t there, this woman was, and I still felt like someone loved me even though I was sick. I am blessed and thankful for the number of people that came over to me and prayed with me. And I am thankful for the people who got ahold of my roommate, who dropped everything and ran up to make sure I was OK.

It was this day and the weeks that followed that people were checking in on me to make sure I was feeling better, that I realized there are people who still care. People will come and go in your life and you will get hurt by people, but those people are the ones that did not deserve to be in your life to begin with.

As I sit a few weeks later writing this, I can’t help but cry. Tears of thanksgiving though because I have been blessed. After years of feeling so alone, feeling like I had to hide such a big part of my life, I finally feel like I have a support system. People come and go in your life. You will meet so many people that just don’t understand. Don’t give up though, don’t hide who you really are, and keep searching, because there are people who truly care. Surround yourself with them because they are the ones that actually matter.

Getty Image by Wavebreakmedia

Originally published: April 10, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home