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To the People Who Don’t Invite 'That Sick Friend'

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I’m not bothered, honestly I’m not. I feel I should be, though. Does that make me a better person, or just in deep denial of how the “new normal” has changed a collective group of people’s opinion of me that harshly?

Let me backtrack to a couple of days ago. I was hanging out with a good friend who I met through work. Our conversation eventually got to the job (which I am currently unable to do due to my illnesses) and what had been happening. Since taking a step down from my main role, only a few of my workmates had stayed in regular contact with me, which is quite OK. When I’d pop into work for little shifts or to collect things I’d see everyone and catch up on what I’d been missing. Which brings me to why I’m writing this post tonight.

My dear friend was telling me she had only been officially invited to a “staff only” fun trip that day, which was scheduled to happen in a couple of days. I could tell she was a little bothered by it, but she was handling it just by being her beautiful self. I didn’t have the emotional energy to tell her I hadn’t heard about it, let alone been invited to it. This wasn’t the first time I’d dealt with what I call the “too sick to invite” filter that some people are subject to — being deemed “unsuitable” for an event or occasion. As my friend told me more about what had been organized and who was going, I understood (which is really screwed up) why I hadn’t been told about it. When you’re sick, events that are a green light for others sometimes aren’t as simple for you. This doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy and cherish what you have been invited to be a part of, just that you have to take your “new normal” way of going about things into consideration so you have the best and least-damaging-to-your-health time, you can if you decide to attend.

Let me make this clear: Nobody is being chronically ill to make things difficult, time consuming, uncertain or expensive (for themselves or others). They are simply doing the best they can with the tools they have to deal with — something nobody would choose to have in their everyday life. When you cross someone’s name off the list from a party because they are “too sick” in your “educated” medical opinion to even consider attending, you are further making the chronic condition(s) the person deals with (not who they are as a person) their actual identity. I can’t stress enough how damaging that is. We already know we are sick — you don’t have to remind us. By taking away the decision that should be the individual person’s to make, it’s another point on the scoreboard for *insert chronic conditions here,* against the daily grind of living a life as close to “normal” as possible.

I myself have been guilty of this in the past, assuming (and thinking I was being a good friend for doing so) that a friend wouldn’t want to come because they had something going on that would make it hard or even awkward for them to attend, compared to others I had invited without a second thought. Doing this, I had effectively made it clear they weren’t “well enough” in my eyes for what I had planned. What is totally wrong here is that it was not my decision to make. It never was even for a minute. Only you can gauge whether you can handle attending or being a part of an event. Doctors and your support system will offer advice, but in the end, it is your body you must listen to and take the best care of that you can.

What’s the point I’m trying to get at? You aren’t inviting a friend who is “the sick person,” you’re inviting a friend who happens to have a bit more stacked against them. Sometimes just being invited to something I know I might be too sick to attend right at that moment makes me feel like I’m being seen as me, not my illnesses. So next time you are organizing a pool party, coffee group or even a movie and pizza night, invite “that” friend. You might just make their week even if they have to decline or leave partway through to recharge those batteries.

Follow this journey on A Fragile Heroine.

The Mighty is asking the following: Tell us one thing your loved ones might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. What would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: February 29, 2016
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