The Mighty Logo

Walking Away From a Toxic Friendship Because of Your Illness

We have all read the articles: “What Happens When You Have a Chronic Illness and You’re Alone” and “When You Lose Friends Due to Illness.” The majority of articles talk about when friends or family walk away from tough situations, but what happens when you have to walk away?

I have one of those friends. One who is always in emotional turmoil. One who is very needy and assumes no one will ever feel his pain. He recently went through a bad breakup and his family is not really there for him. I helped him through many things before I was diagnosed with lupus, and when I was diagnosed, he seemed pretty sincere with asking how I was, but it always seemed to go back to his current issue. His issues were always far worse in comparison than anything I was going through in his eyes.


It started to worsen when he would message me that he really needed me because he was in a bad place. No regards to me being in a huge flare (which he was aware of) and dealing with depression and anxiety too. That’s when it was clear that he was not only the center of his universe, which is fine, but also wanted to be the center of mine. No exceptions. I started realizing after talking to him over time that my problems were obsolete compared to his world. That’s not good.

I realized it was time for me to walk away. Not that I don’t care about him; I have helped him so many times in the past. The situation has turned rapidly into a take/take relationship over time and in my condition, I don’t have much to give. I have a family and other friends who have normal relationships and are loving and sincere. I have my health that is front and center too, which, no matter how good or poor, should be most important.

I finally responded. “I am sorry you are feeling all of this pain. I wish I could be the friend you need right now, I really do. But I am not well enough, mentally or physically, to be that person you need. I wish I could be that shoulder you need and I hope you understand. I really need to take care of me at this time. Sorry.”

He immediately blocked me. That was a sign we were never truly friends. We were not helping each other. He was using me for himself and never cared for me or my illness.

So yes, it is hard when you lose friends. Yes, some will leave you when you are sick. There are good ones who will stay and be genuine, but you may have to weed through the toxic ones. They may have ulterior motives and be taking advantage of you and your illness. They make you sicker, flare, cause more mental health issues, and it’s not worth your well-being to hold on to that friend. I would much rather be alone than be used by someone who doesn’t care about me or my pain.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via tixti.

Conversations 3