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The Pain of Losing My Best Friend After I Became Ill

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She was my best friend. She was my sister. She was my constant. Yet in my time of need, she left me. She stood up from the lunch table and called me a faker. Not only did my health go downhill, but so did our friendship. My Ehlers-Danlos syndrome turned my life upside down. My future is now unclear, and simple tasks have turned impossible. I always assumed she would be with me through this roller coaster of a diagnosis. Yet, in my time of need she walked away.

• What is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
• What Are Common Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Symptoms?

As I walk through the hall I hear whispers. Whispers of “Did you hear she is faking?” and “She can walk, what’s with the crutches?” These whispers don’t bother me, except when it’s her. I hear stories of her calling me a faker, a liar, and disregarding my illness. While I take these with remarks in stride, they feel like a stab to the heart. The girl I used to trust with my life has turned into the girl who completely disregards my life. This falling out in the lunch room hurt more than any dislocation could. With dislocations, pain medication can help, but nothing can help this.

There was a light at the end of the tunnel, though. My best friend, Isabelle, pulled me out of this dark place and taught me how to trust again. She has listened to me retell this story to her on the verge of tears, and she has been the one whose shoulder I can cry on. I feel happy to be out of that toxic relationship, but it’s still hard sometimes. I often see my old friend with others and yearn to warn them. I don’t warn them, though. I have realized they aren’t in the same situation. Those people who befriend her aren’t ill. Those people can go to amusement parks and play sports without screaming in pain. I have learned that some people just cannot handle going through what I’m going through with me. These people may be great friends to those in good health, but toxic to those in bad health.

two teenage girls wearing black shirts with arms around each other
Kaitlyn (left) and her friend Isabelle

I am here to testify that there are people who can be good to you when your health is horrible to you. Almost everyone with a chronic illness has lost a friend to their diagnosis, but these tough times can also strengthen relationships. The real friends make it through your rough days and hold your hand all the way through it. While my illness may never get better, I now see that other parts of my life can. Those of you with chronic illness cannot change your body, but I encourage you to cut ties with toxic friendships.

Losing a best friend may be painful, but finding strong bonds make the pain worth it.

Originally published: July 12, 2016
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